China pilots banned from job-hopping for Olympics
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Aviation regulators in eastern China have told airlines not to let pilots quit or change jobs before the end of the Beijing Olympics, fearing that job-hopping by pilots could undermine air safety, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China's (CAAC) eastern branch also secured an agreement from local courts not to rule on cases related to pilot resignations before or during the Games, which run from August 8 to 24, the source told Reuters late on Thursday.
State-backed carriers such as China Eastern Airlines face a worsening shortage of pilots due to a boom in air travel and poaching by private-sector airlines that offer higher wages.
"The CAAC summoned all Shanghai-based carriers well before the Olympics and asked them to rein in their pilots and ensure air traffic safety during the Olympics," said the source.
"No (job) movement by pilots will be allowed before the end of the Games and no courts in Shanghai will rule on pilot-related issues."
A CAAC spokesman in Beijing said he had no direct knowledge of the matter.
Pilot poaching made headlines in April when Shanghai Airlines Co filed a law suit demanding a total of 35 million yuan ($5.12 million) in compensation from nine pilots who sought to quit their jobs.
In late March, Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines Corp became entangled in a high-profile spat with pilots who staged a mid-air "strike" over wages and working conditions by flying their aircraft back to their departure airports, claiming bad weather.
Pilots in China typically enter into lifetime employment contracts with airlines and require approval to resign from their jobs, often paying hefty compensation to cover training costs.
China Eastern, one of China's three major airlines, and Shanghai Airlines were among carriers attending the CAAC meeting, the source added.
A China Eastern spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment and Shanghai Air declined to comment.
(Editing by Edmund Klamann)
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