Chinese Airlines Struggle to Keep Up with Surge in Applicants for Cabin Crew

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An applicant is measured for height during a recruiting session for cabin crew jobs at Hainan Airlines in Beijing, China, March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Fresh University Graduates Seek High-Paying Jobs as Domestic Travel Recovers and Chinese Airlines Plan to Resume Flights

BEIJING – Chinese airlines are experiencing a surge in the number of applicants for cabin crew roles, as fresh university graduates seek relatively high-paying jobs in a bleak job market. This trend contrasts with the Western countries, where cabin crew roles are relatively low-paid and mostly do not require a university degree.

Becoming a flight attendant in China typically requires a bachelor’s degree and passing a challenging government-administrated English test. Due to attrition rather than the widespread layoffs seen in the West, the total number of flight attendants in China fell by around 11% during the pandemic, according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

An applicant has his picture taken during a recruiting session for cabin crew jobs at Hainan Airlines in Beijing, China, March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
An applicant has his picture taken during a recruiting session for cabin crew jobs at Hainan Airlines in Beijing, China, March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

However, as domestic travel recovers and airlines plan to resume flights to popular international destinations, carriers such as Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Spring Airlines are now on a hiring spree. Moreover, China is about to welcome a record 11.58 million college graduates who are entering one of the country’s worst job markets in decades.

Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Spring Airlines go on a hiring spree

The gloomy global economic outlook has weakened export demand, and companies in sectors like technology, education, and property are cutting staff. Hainan Airlines, which plans to hire more than 1,000 flight attendants this year, has already received more than 20,000 applications.

Its job fair held in Jinan in February attracted 900 candidates, but the company hired only 60 people, meaning a selection rate of around 6%. China Southern, which plans to hire 3,000 cabin crew this year, said it already had more than seven times as many applicants by the end of December. Before the pandemic, around 10% of cabin crew applications were typically successful, industry experts said.

Applicants check their appearance before being tested during a recruiting session for cabin crew jobs at Hainan Airlines in Beijing, China, March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Applicants check their appearance before being tested during a recruiting session for cabin crew jobs at Hainan Airlines in Beijing, China, March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

However, the surge in job seekers may lead to airlines facing difficulties deploying new hires immediately due to year-long ground training courses, which could slow their efforts to boost capacity quickly and keep airfares high. Despite the challenges, airlines have a bright forecast for 2024, which is why they need to hire crew members now; otherwise, they will be short of hands next year, said Li Hanming, an independent expert on China’s aviation industry.

A plane of China Eastern Airlines lands at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
A plane of China Eastern Airlines lands at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Reduction of Hurdles by Governments Allows for Recovery in Travel to and from China

Following moves by Chinese and other governments to reduce the hurdles preventing a recovery in travel to and from China, airlines are now responding by resuming more of their pre-pandemic flights to mainland China. This has already meant that China’s international capacity has increased in recent months, and now airlines are signalling that more ambitious steps are forthcoming.

Many routes to China were restarted in the first quarter of 2023, and even greater increases are due to occur in April 2023. This should accelerate the capacity rebound dramatically.

The resumption of international flights to China is a significant step for the aviation industry and for the global economy as a whole. With China being one of the largest economies in the world, its return to pre-pandemic levels of travel will have far-reaching effects.

The reduction of hurdles by governments has been a critical factor in this rebound. Many countries have relaxed their travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, making it easier for people to travel to and from China. This has been accompanied by a significant increase in vaccination rates, which has helped to reduce the spread of the virus and make travel safer.

As a result, airlines are now resuming more of their pre-pandemic flights to China. This includes both Chinese airlines and international carriers that serve the country. Many of these routes were suspended or reduced during the pandemic due to the low demand for air travel.

However, with the situation improving, airlines are now increasing their capacity to meet the growing demand. This has already meant that China’s international capacity has increased in recent months, and more ambitious steps are on the horizon.

According to industry experts, the resumption of flights to China is a positive sign for the global aviation industry. It indicates that demand for air travel is starting to rebound and that people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of travelling again.

In addition to the resumption of flights to China, airlines are also increasing their capacity on other international routes. This includes destinations in Europe, the United States, and other parts of Asia. This is a further indication that the global aviation industry is starting to recover.

The increase in international capacity is also good news for the Chinese economy. With more people travelling to and from China, the country’s tourism industry will benefit. This will provide a much-needed boost to the economy, which has been struggling due to the pandemic.

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As the peak summer season approaches, Chinese airlines are adding international capacity. Flag carrier Air China, for example, said it would return to pre-pandemic routes including Beijing-Rome, Beijing-Ho Chi Minh City, and Chengdu-London.

However, for now, limited capacity has led to higher fares. In conclusion, Chinese airlines are facing an overwhelming number of applicants for cabin crew roles as fresh university graduates turn to relatively high-paying careers in a bleak job market. Despite the challenges of deploying new hires immediately due to year-long ground training courses, airlines need to hire crew members now to boost capacity and keep airfares high as they forecast a bright future in 2024. – Reuters