VietNamNet Bridge – Air carriers, who have been scrambling for pilots and stewardesses all the time, have begun a new struggle to lure technical officers.


The story of VAECO

The story stems from the petition by a lot of technical workers of the Vietnam Airlines Engineering Company (VAECO), a subsidiary of the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines, who complained that they have been forced to sign the labor contracts with the validity of 20 years.

By doing this, the company hopes that it would have stable technical staff for a long time. It might feel insecure when private airlines have been trying every possible way to induce qualified workers from other airlines to work for them.

VAECO now pays VND7.5-21 million a month on average to its workers. Meanwhile, private airlines may offer the salaries of VND21-58 million, which is triple the wages offered by VAECO. Therefore, VAECO has every reason to worry about the brain drain.

And this has happened in reality. Some key workers and technical officers with CRS certificates in HCM City have left VAECO for Vietjet Air, a newly established private airline.

VAECO’s managers have asked the company’s workers to sign the labor contracts with the commitments to work for VAECO at least for 10-20 years. In case they leave VAECO sooner than expected, they would have to pay big sums of money as the compensation for the training costs.

The training cost for a technical officer to get CRS certificate is VND700 million – 1.4 billion, the huge sums of money.

Meanwhile, technical officers argue that the training quality does not deserve the high costs. In fact, they have to learn themselves from practicing to pass the exams and get the certificates.

A lot of VAECO’s workers have expressed their disagreement about the labor contract validity and the compensation level. They also pointed out that VAECO’s pay is too low if compared with their labor productivity.

VAECO’s managers gathered a meeting in the afternoon of November 20 to discuss the issue. However, the problem still has not been settled.

Vietnam lacks workers for aviation industry

Vietjet Air, the air carrier which is believed to be the “culprit” behind the VAECO’s brain drain, when answering Motthegioi newspaper, states that the airline simply recruits workers based on their capability, no matter they are Vietnamese or foreigners. The workers and the airline sign labor contracts on a voluntary basis.

It is obvious that Vietjet Air’s personnel demand is very high. Especially, the demand would be increasing in the time to come, when the air carrier expands its fleet to more than 100 aircrafts. Therefore, it is high possible that it would pay highly to attract qualified workers.

In fact, this is not the first time Vietnam Airlines faced the brain drain. A lot of its workers left for Jetstar Pacific, Air Mekong, Vietjet Air, when the new air carriers joined the market.

Analysts have commented that it would be understandable if Vietnam Airlines losses not only pilots and stewardesses, but also key personnel and senior executives in the future.

A VAECO’s worker said that VAECO should have more reasonable solutions to retain qualified workers, rather than forcing them to sign long term contracts. “This may do more harm than good,” he said. “The workers, who still keep hesitant about the leave, may make decisions promptly.”

Ngoc Ha