Sky - High Demand

Article Posted: 25.07.2017
Martin Evan-Jones
Editor-in-Chief


Prospects are looking good for people aiming to forge their careers in the Asia Pacific airline industry in 2017. A mix of bright profitability, high customer demand and a robust, competitive environment is invigorating the employment market virtually across the board with aircraft cabin and ground personnel and pilots all in the frame.
 
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) brings together 16 major, regional scheduled airlines and reports that, despite revenue pressures, airlines are set to achieve solid financial performances with regional indicators tracking at the same or higher levels than at the same point in November 2015, which was a stellar year for the industry.
 
At the same
time the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expected Asia Pacific airlines to post a bullish US$7.8 billion in profits driven by relatively stable oil prices and strong passenger demand, flying in the face of weaker overall economic indicators.  In fact, Asia Pacific airline capacity is expected to expand 9.1%, mainly propelled by Chinese mainland tourists.
 
The problem for airlines is that the “right kind” of recruitment is worrisome at the moment. A report from Big Four consultancy Deloitte & Touche LLP says customers want outstanding,
personalised experiences to match expected hospitality service at their destinations.
 
This is particularly true for Asian “Generation Me”
millenials who expect seamless planning and faultless execution of service. That has to be reflected in all aspects of the airline’s brand, from check-in to on-time flight schedules, ground- and in-air services.
 
Airlines report that it is difficult to recruit the right people and retain them, with high levels of turnover as employees can shop around to step up the career ladder.
 
Cabin crews
are particularly in demand. Singapore Airlines provides a comprehensive four-month training program, including service, product knowledge, deportment and grooming, language and communication and how to handle passengers. The airline pays a basic salary during training, with salaries on graduation quoted at between US$3,167 and US$3,521 per month, with annual wage supplements and profit-sharing bonuses. Many other regional airlines provide no information about training or entry salaries, presumably due to local negotiations.
 
Singapore Airlines has also done a deal with Virgin Atlantic and CTC Aviation to develop a crew-training center in both the US and the UK, including flight training and global experience, creating a worldwide outlook for new recruits.
 
Career path is an all-important feature that airlines need to address due to the high turnover of staff. While incoming low budget airlines appear to eschew such considerations as they hire people only within a specific top-line budget consideration, airlines with brand reputation have to consider quality hires. 
 
A case in point is Garuda Indonesia which last year won the Skytrax World Airline “World’s Best Airline Cabin Crew” award for the third year in succession, beating out All Nippon Airways. The award recognizes the
all-round performance of an airline’s cabin staff, covering technique, efficiency as well as staff enthusiasm, attitude, friendliness and overall hospitality. The key appears to be the Garuda Indonesia Training Centre in Jakarta, which provides simulator, e-learning and flighty attendant courses to all its intake – including specialized sections on cross-cultural understanding and “service mindset”.
 
Of course, new and disruptive strategies have been set by
low cost airlines such as Hong Kong Airlines that typically tend to take in air and ground staff through intermittent walk-in recruitment drives. In Hong Kong Airlines’ case, however, an aggressive recent thrust to a wider array of destinations follows its code sharing agreement with Turkey’s Etihad Airways.
 
Intake personnel and especially students take the interface with future employers very
seriously, and are particularly disillusioned with so-called testing procedures that overlook their achievements but require mundane specifics such as weight, height, eyesight and the like to qualify. Indeed, many airlines are becoming more mindful of the ways they can inspire new employees to focus on the service opportunities, experience and future they can look forward to. 
 
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