SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — Hundreds of South Korean airline pilots have joined Chinese airlines in the past five years, a ruling party lawmaker said Wednesday, amid a recent boom in the aviation industry.
An Ho-young of the ruling Democratic Party said 460 pilots from eight local carriers joined foreign airlines, which usually offer far bigger paychecks, between 2014 and July 2019, citing data submitted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
About 80 percent of them joined Chinese airlines.
The data showed that the country’s two major airlines — Korean Air and Asiana Airlines — lost 172 and 86 pilots, respectively, to foreign airlines during the cited period.
While captains make about 100 million won per year on average (US$84,000) at Korean Air, Chinese companies reportedly offer around 200 million won, or up to 300 million won depending on the type of aircraft.
The pilot exodus was especially intense during 2016-2017 when the aviation industry was booming. The number of pilots in South Korean airlines stood at 6,316 at the end of last year.