Pilots quit Vietnam Airlines in droves

Vietnam Airlines

National carrier pays pilots less than budget airlines based in Vietnam.

Vietnam Airlines is flying high in regional rankings as one of the top carriers in Asia, but there are rumblings of discontent among its pilots, who are quitting in significant numbers, citing low pay and benefits.

A VNA official who did not want to be named told VnExpress that 7 pilots had tendered their resignations last month. And at a recent internal conference held by the carrier, A350 captain and flight trainer Pham Tien Nga said 12 of his co-pilots have turned in their papers.

Also last month, a joint petition was submitted to the government by 16 pilots, saying they were forced to leave the national carrier by low pay, unsatisfactory work conditions and severance policies.

Money troubles

In its yearly report last year, VNA said the average salary for its pilots was VND121 million ($5,300) per month. However, a VNA co-pilot who wanted to stay anonymous said he only earned VND50-70 million per month, and the monthly salary for a captain was VND110-150 million.

In contrast, the two other functioning airlines in the country, both budget carriers, offer much higher average salaries to their pilots and co-pilots.

At Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific a co-pilot can earn as much as VND100-120 million and VND110-160 million per month, respectively.

For a captain, the monthly salary goes up to VND110-160 million and VND180-240 million per month, respectively.

Lower-than-average pay isn’t the only concern that the VNA pilots and co-pilots have. They are not happy that their pay is significantly lower than pilots from other countries who do the same job for the national carrier.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, a VNA captain and flight trainer, said his monthly pay was just two-thirds of what foreign pilots make per month.

Another VNA co-pilot, Q, said the airline also offers foreign pilots better benefits and personal policies. Foreign pilots get to spend two weeks off for every six weeks spent working, while Vietnamese pilots only get to spend one week off for every nine weeks spent working, the Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

It doesn’t stop there. Q claimed that VNA also strategically schedule the pilots’ days off so that they have to work more without getting overtime pay, especially during busy seasons.

“This has been happening for a long time now. We pilots have raised our voices many times, but there have been no effective solutions offered by the management.”

The way they are being treated is having a negative impact on their motivation and efficiency, Q said. – VNExpress

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