We’re hiring: Cathay Pacific drives to recruit Pakistani aviators

Published: April 11, 2012
Global hiring process linked to carrier’s ambitious growth plans in Asia.

Global hiring process linked to carrier’s ambitious growth plans in Asia.


Under its ambitious growth plans, Cathay Pacific – the Hong Kong based private airline – is in the process of hiring Pakistani pilots. The drive is part of an international recruitment process in which the carrier aims to hire 300 pilots from different countries – including Pakistan – in 2012, says David Alan Whitehead Hodges, Cathy Pacific’s deputy flying training manager, in an interview with The Express Tribune.

The upbeat Hodges, who was recently in Pakistan to recruit Second Officers, says the airline requires hundreds of pilots to match its ambitious targets for the coming decade.

“We are aware that there exists a considerable amount of interest in the aviation industry in Pakistan, and we have received a large number of applications from what appear to be well-qualified candidates,” Hodges says.

This is the first time the airline is recruiting Second Officers from Pakistan.

“Pakistani pilots have equal opportunity to secure as many positions as they qualify for,” he replies, when asked if there is a specific hiring limit for Pakistani candidates; “it depends solely on the suitability of the applicants.”

When asked about education and/or training prerequisites, he says the airline attaches considerable importance to accreditations from international regulators. The importance of basic training and education diminishes significantly if a prospective pilot has international accreditations and extensive flying experience, he says.

Talking about the airline’s growth plans, he says Cathay Pacific has ordered 100 wide body airplanes for the next couple of years. To meet growing operations, the airline now requires new pilots.

To a question, he says that Cathay Pacific has some Pakistani pilots in its crew but the airline wants to hire more. “Our message to Pakistani pilots is clear: we are a growing airline and we need qualified pilots – so, do come to us.”

Successful candidates from the first round of interviews in Karachi will go for further interviews and assessments in Hong Kong. Successful candidates from Hong Kong will then go to Australia for a flight grading assessment. Since Hong Kong is Cathay Pacific’s home, the airline plans to base all new Second Officers there. Therefore, after completion of the training programme in Australia and upon joining the airline, all successful pilots will complete further training in Hong Kong. However, applicants with sufficient experience and impressive credentials may skip the training process and be invited directly to Hong Kong, Hodges explains.

South East Asia is home to some of the fastest growing economies of the world – where new airlines are entering markets, while existing ones are expanding operations on the back of strong economic growth in regional countries. Officials of the airline say that it attracted applications from all over the world when it first advertised pilot vacancies.

With the acquisition of 100 new aircrafts in the pipeline, and plans of ambitious growth in its international network, Cathay Pacific is all set to expand its operations to different regions, especially in Asia.

The airline has a wide-body aircraft fleet of Boeing 747s, Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s and Airbus A340s. It deploys pilots according to the aircraft types on which they serve.

The airline flies to 162 destinations in 42 countries and territories, with 137 aircrafts. Cathay Pacific and its subsidiaries employ 29,217 people worldwide, making it one of the biggest employers from Hong Kong.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • RizwanTKhan
    Apr 11, 2012 - 9:58AM

    Healthy move.


  • Billoo Bhaya
    Apr 11, 2012 - 10:23AM

    Good luck guys. Enjoy your careers. There doesn’t seem to be anything left in Pakistan or PIA to work and live for. We are seeing a star die and will it die slowly but surely.


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 11, 2012 - 6:47PM

    @Billoo Bhaya:

    That is not true. Don’t be so pessimistic. There is PIA as well as private airlines in Pakistan that need well-qualified pilots too. PIA is losing money as we all know but they still need pilots to fly their aircraft! And with the new 777’s as well as aircraft to replace the A310 and Boeing 737 fleet, the demand for pilots can and will go up.


  • Imran Ahmed
    Apr 14, 2012 - 4:49PM

    @ Meekal Ahmed
    With all due respect perhaps you have been in a deep sleep for the last year. PIA has already signed up nearly 200 jiyalas in the last two years. Room in PIA for the next 4-5 years, at least, is not there for new pilots. That, combined with mass retirements of air force, begs the question where hundreds of young and fresh new pilots, around 500-600 will go. Every year approx 100-200 new qualifiers are added to the pool.
    Its time for private airlines to step up hiring (on merit, not like they currently do). India, in exchange for flight rights, struck a deal with Qatar to take 200 new Indian trained CPL holders. Our aviation officials and PIA top brass is selling to Emirates, so why cant they strike a similar deal?
    I must also add here, there exist many opportunities in air freight, air ambulance, survey, etc missions. But, sadly interference from a couple of institutions has monopolized the scene of aviation in Pakistan. Only PIA, that too to a small extent is ‘paak’ from the games of retired 60 year old “youngsters”. Until these “youngsters” dominate our general aviation and civil aviation, there is no hope.Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:44PM

    No, I have not been asleep; I am very much awake.

    With aviation continuing to grow rapidly, I believe there will be jobs; if not in Pakistan, then the new qualified will find jobs outside the country. It is all a question of the dynamics of supply and demand.

    The new qualified are lucky in that their skills are in demand world-wide.

    Air force people coming into the civilian market does create a problem. Shaheen was specifically created to accomodate them.

    Pilots now retire at 65 and there is talk of pushing that higher! Obviously, this would be resented by the younder pilots. That is a natural reaction because their promotions to bigger aircraft (and bigger bucks) is delayed. That is true everywhere — not only in Pakistan. Personally, I think pushing the retirement age up was a good decision, taking all things into consideration. The flight experience these people have is invaluable and their well-honed skills could save your and my life one day.

    There are many stories of highly experienced pilots pulling off miracles which a less experienced person would not have been able to do.

    While older pilots with vast flying experience are not necessarily good pilots, I would rather fly with someone sporting a bit of grey hair than a youngster! I would imagine the traveling public interested in these things feel more “comfortable” with an older commander.


  • Imran Ahmed
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:20PM

    Ok Meekal sir, first of all, where is demand growing? Quite the opposite, airlines havent been this bad since 1920. You can count the recent international start ups on one hand, but the carriers that closed? Dozens and dozens, from the USA to South Africa. With an excess of experienced professionals ready to work for peanuts, please explain to me, how the thousands of unemployed cpl holders around the world, (just 6000 in india alone) will ever get jobs?
    Furthermore, what bright prospects are you (and only you) seeing for our great sarzameen? How and where will the 300 or so odd cpl holders in Pakistan be adjusted, how do you analyze the aviation sector? Which air companies are starting?
    As far as I know the retirement age here is still 60, it hasnt been pushed up – yet.
    No doubts on flight experience sir, but do remember Tenerife, do remember Flash Air, and many more. True, new pilots have made many mistakes caused accidents, but there is a fair share of the crowd where “experience builds complacency”. Sadly, that crowd of macho pilots is quite big here in Pakistan, “I’ve flown for 20 years so I’m invulnerable”.
    Anyways that aside, let’s come back to the market for Pakistani pilots, by Pakistani companies. Please share your insight.


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