China Needs 5,550 New Pilots a Year as Travel Soars, Boeing Says

  • China needs more pilots than anywhere in Asia Pacific region
  • Nation on course to pass N. America as largest aviation market

An Air China aircraft at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Airlines in China need to hire 5,550 pilots a year for the next two decades as new plane orders and demand for air travel surges, according to Boeing Co.

With the nation on course to eclipse North America as the world’s largest travel market, China will need 111,000 new aviators through 2035, Boeing said in a forecast released on Wednesday. That’s more than anywhere else in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 40 percent of the global pilot requirement, the Chicago-based plane maker said.

Aviation is booming in China, where the number of airlines has increased 28 percent to 55 in the past five years. Air traffic over China is set to almost quadruple in the next two decades, making it the world’s busiest market, according to rival Airbus Group SE.

"We are continuing to see a significant need for new pilots and maintenance technicians in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe,” Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services, said in a statement.

As China endures a pilot shortage, local airlines are dangling lucrative pay packages at foreigners with cockpit experience, according to recruiters. Foreign aviators can earn as much as $26,000 a month in net pay in China.

The Asian country also needs 119,000 flight technicians over the next two decades, while Southeast Asia requires 62,000 pilots and 67,000 technicians, Boeing said.

In a global forecast in July, the aircraft maker said airlines worldwide will need to recruit and train about 617,000 pilots to fly 39,620 planes, valued at $5.9 trillion, that are expected to be added through 2035.

The Asia-Pacific region will need 15,130 new aircraft valued at $2.35 trillion in the next two decades, according to Boeing.

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