Vietnam's national flag air carrier hikes salary to retain pilots

By Ngoc Nguyen - Jun 07, 2018 | 05:33 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERThe salary adjustment in early this month has become the strongest pay modification of Vietnam Airlines, in which the pilot’s salaries increase by 20 percent.

The number of pilots resigning from Vietnam Airlines, a national flag air carrier, is increasing significantly due to low pay and benefits.

Specifically, in 2016, the average salary of Vietnam Airlines pilots was about $5,078. Meanwhile, the average income earned by Vietnam Airlines pilots in 2017 was about $5,330, a slight increase of five percent compared to the previous year.

However, in comparison with the pay increase rate of other positions at Vietnam Airlines, the salary growth of pilot is relatively low. 

Specifically, while the average salary of pilot last year increased only five percent, the salary increase of flight attendants of Vietnam Airlines was up to 11 percent. The average salary of staff (excluding Board of Directors and Board of Directors) increased by nearly 13 percent.

Since 2015 to 2017, 223 pilots tendered their resignation from Vietnam Airlines. In the first five months of this year, 33 pilots resigned and 20 more pilots are expected to resign as well.

The salaries of Vietnam Airlines' pilots are relatively low. Photo: Soha

“There are months that I have to fly for 120 hours leaving me with no time to take care of my family , yet still my salary is only two thirds of foreign pilot’s salary. Despite working for a 4-star airline, my salary falls short from other airlines. If Vietnam Airlines does not come up with a breakthrough policy then more people will decide to leave the corporation,” said Nguyen Anh Tuan, flight instructor cum B787 captain of Vietnam Airlines.

On the contrary, the two other budget airlines currently operating in the country offer much higher average salaries to their pilots and co-pilots.

Particularly, the salary of Jetstar’s co-pilot is ranging from $4,400 to $5,300 per month, as for the captain, the salary is ranging from $4,800 to $7,000 per month, depending on their experiences and flight hours.

Although, Vietjet Air has a smaller operation scale and lower revenue comparing to Vietnam Airlines, their staff's salaries are much higher, especially for pilots.

Specifically, based on the annual report of Vietjet Air 2017, the average salary of co-pilot is between $5,300 to $6,200 monthly and captain’s salary is between $7,900 to $10,500 monthly, based on their productivity and seniority.

According to Duong Tri Thanh, President & CEO of Vietnam Airlines, the comparison of the airlines' salary to other airlines is inadequate as besides from the salary, Vietnam Airlines also has other favourable policies such as voluntary retirement insurance, new fare reduction, rewards for good flight etc.

Additionally, as a state-owned enterprise under the management of the Ministry of Transport, Vietnam Airlines must follow a roadmap when it comes to adjusting salary. Currently, in the process of salary review, the salary of pilot is considered to be the top priority and is constantly adjusted.

In the recent report of Vietnam Airlines to the Ministry of Transport since the beginning of June, the salaries of flight instructor and pilot were officially increased, of which pilot's salaries increase by 20 percent. 

In particular, the salaries of Vietnam Airlines' pilots are divided into three groups.

For the crew of B787 and A350 pilots, captain will receive the salary ranging from $9,000 to $10,800 per month, while co-pilot will earn a salary of $5,500 to $6,600 per month.

For the crew of A321 pilots, the salary of a captain is going to be from $7,700 to $10,400 per month, while the salary of a co-pilot will be from $4,400 to $5,900 per month. As for the crew of ATR pilots, a captain will receive the salary ranging from $6,900 to $8,200 monthly, while co-pilot will earn a salary of $3,300 to $4,000 monthly.

According to Vietnam Airlines, with this salary rate, Vietnamese pilots of the airline will have an average post-tax income equal to 70 percent of foreign pilots working at the company.

Foreign pilots' salaries are fairly higher than Vietnamese pilots’ as the living cost in their country is relatively higher than in Vietnam, at the same time they have to pay for other costs when working abroad.