Fragrant Harbour A forum for the large number of pilots (expats and locals) based with the various airlines in Hong Kong. Air Traffic Controllers are also warmly welcomed into the forum.


Old 3rd Jun 2014, 08:54
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: uk
Posts: 20

I'm currently flying the A330 for a large European airline (f/o 1000hours) with about 10,000 hours total time of which about 4000 is med. jet command.
Things are going well but I was brought up in Hong Kong and still have family and friends there. I'm in my late 30's with a very young family, part of me wants to do the sensible thing and stay put, the other wants to blow caution to the wind and bang an application into dragonair.
I notice dragonair are recruiting at the moment and time to command would be much quicker than Cathay. I've also had enough of hotels and would love a roster comprising of day trips and not weekly visits to the sand pit. I've met a few dragonair guys around and they seem like a good bunch and quite content.
Are there any dragonair pilots out there that could give me some advice, eg. Is the school allowance enough for 2 kids at an ESF school?, could you live fairly comfortably on Lantau if prepared to add to your housing allowance? With 20k housing we might have to bring 3 tents.
Any advice would be much appreciated and if I get an interview I'll be back.
michaela74 is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2014, 14:29
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Asia
Posts: 518
Prob not doalble...

Why add to the housing allowance? Salary is salary and housing is housing...

Better off to the Middle East or stay where you are...
AQIS Boigu is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2014, 00:19
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: MOON
Posts: 159
Not doable

Still 22 days a month rostered, with muppets
in charge, and life full if China hell.
You can't afford school for your kids and a home.
Pick one. That's just math.
twotigers is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2014, 02:28
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 47
Don't do it

If you are happy where you are I don't think you should come to KA.
First of all.
A major airline in Europe on A330 must be a happier place than KA.
You must have at least one good nightstop a year. In KA you will never have one.

For 20 K you can't find something for a family but if you add 10-15 it is ok. Then you have to consider the schools. This will make your selection of where to live more restricted.
The schools will not be fully covered by KA. Also if your kids are young they don't pay anything.

Time to command can be 2 years and it can be 10 years. For the moment there is a lot of activity but also many many failures.

The pollution is almost no 1 discussion here one the flt deck. I would not like to bring my kids into this. I have invested a lot in filters for my home, only future will tell if it is enough.

I would only take the KA job if I was unemployed or I needed the rating to get into another job.
That said....
The salary is ok.
The annual leave system is great.
The roster, destinations, nightstops, training, world record holder of ATC brainier.....stay in Europe.
Ka-life is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2014, 02:46
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 2,163
You might want to research how hard to will be to get your kids into school, I've heard it's very hard to get a place and then the upfront debenture is a killer..

Last edited by nitpicker330; 4th Jun 2014 at 08:20.
nitpicker330 is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2014, 03:44
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Asia
Posts: 518
$500000+ non refundable debenture...
AQIS Boigu is offline  
Old 5th Jun 2014, 01:40
  #7 (permalink)  
Props are for boats!
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: An Asian Hub
Age: 52
Posts: 989

What is the FO package at KA these days? I've read its 90k a month all up including housing before tax. Would that be about right?
Sheep Guts is offline  
Old 5th Jun 2014, 06:54
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: MOON
Posts: 159
You'd be close on that sheep.

And although lots in theory.
90k x .85 tax - 76.5
76.5 - 30 housing (and that's cheap)
= 46.5
Kids school - 500,000 debenture + 10k a month
36.5 less debenture you have to front

Food/ internet ect well over 25,000 for my family
of five NOT eating out a lot.

So you're sitting on less than 10k and you've not bought
a beer yet.

Doable as a single guy. Simple NOT doable married
with kids
twotigers is offline  
Old 5th Jun 2014, 12:40
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Extreme
Posts: 311
What about signing a lease?
Two months rent deposit and one month in advance.
Where does that come from?
Also doesn't the IRD charge double tax the first year? So your x.85 becomes x.7?
Single doable. Married probably ok. Kids, NFW.

Last edited by Shot Nancy; 6th Jun 2014 at 05:28.
Shot Nancy is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2014, 00:12
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 357

Michaela74, check PMs.
Mungo Man is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2014, 05:26
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Extreme
Posts: 311
Today's SCMP mentions that from next year ESF require a one-off
non-refundable charge of HKD38000 for new students.
I am led to believe that ESF schools charge more than the published fee schedule as well.
Shot Nancy is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2014, 15:06
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 227
Two kids in a good school here in HKG cost me HK$450 000 a year.
jonathon68 is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2014, 17:10
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Age: 67
Posts: 710
On top of all that you've got the management grief to put up with!

Keep your sanity and stay put.

TheChitterneFlyer is offline  
Old 10th Jun 2014, 13:20
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: HK- A little bit of industrial China in every breath you take.
Posts: 515
Some balance i guess.

The new pay scale is a significant reduction on the B scale. The scale seems to be pitched at young singles who don't plan to marry or procreate any time soon.

In doing this, KA have created a bunch of new hires who are treating it as a chance to get a good rating and move on. KA Management aren't naive to this, they know that as soon as Europe recovers, these new hire guys and girls will go. They are hoping that their cadets are semi experienced before this happens. Think about it, why would you hire a cadet on the same pay scale as an experienced new hire, but the cadet costs you a million to train, plus possibly a new under carriage or two, or an experienced FO for exactly the same salary, less the training costs and the damage? The only way you could explain why you would hire a cadet over an experienced guy to the accountants is the argument that the cadets will never leave. The cadets are also used to life in HK, HK life is not for everyone... Especially when you are not adequately compensated to be here.

We have had plenty of applicants say no to the offer to come to HK, but there is nothing new in that, it also happened to B scale applicants, but the rate of offer rejections appears to be up.

What is becoming pretty clear, is that someone made a very short sighted decision that filled our second half of the seniority list with a significant lack of experience, diluted further with a disproportionate amount of cadets with zero experience. It may not have been a conscious decision, as even in hard times, it is hard to hire experienced crew when you drop the terms as low as they have. Combine that with the 'unwritten' directive to 'nationalise' and you have the perfect storm to create a seniority list that you cannot expand quickly.

A pity, because CX have asked us to expand quickly, and we just physically cannot do it. CX must be annoyed to say the least. The fact is we need EXPERIENCED CREW.

We operate in one of the most frustrating ATC environments on earth, ATC is exceptionally poor and there is no signs what so ever of improvement. Quite the opposite. We are also seeing significant deterioration in ATC in HK as well. It is one of our worst ports for airborne delays, and the trend is towards more holding, not less. China gives us massive delays, but they are typically when you are on the ground. As a professional pilot, trying to keep the show on the road, you should be compensated for this.

Add to that, the significant health risk of firstly living in HK, and then on your overnights, spending a night in air conditions that are immeasurably worse than HK. Keep in mind it is not in the companies or the governments interest to ever disclose the actual magnitude of the filth we breathe and consume through the pearl river delta produce we are fed on board. You have to ask if you are adequately compensated for that, the fact is we don't have the facts to make an informed decision on that. Lets just take comfort in the knowledge that if the data was good on air and food quality, we would be inundated with it. Multiply this factor if you are bringing family with you.

Schooling is a factor, absolutely. Your kids cant just slot into the local schooling system, unless they are fluent in Cantonese. I doubt that they are. Debentures arent covered by KA, and they probably never will be. I know I didnt turn up in HK with 5 to $50,000 USD to spend on school debentures (read bribes). I cant imagine anyone else did either. A debenture is only useful if there are places in the school. I genuinely dont know of a school in HK that has 'space available'. Many execs have left HK because there are no schooling places, regardless of how deep their pockets are. These people were prepared to pay $1mil debentures, but there were no slots available. Pilots wont have the luxury.

Housing. The 'special allowance' (read housing allowance) will in my humble opinion, not get you anything you would be excited about living in. Hong Kong housing is insane, out of control, and no end in sight on that, the rate is less than half of what a family would need to be close to being comfortable.

Medical. There is a c scale medical scheme. The system is generally considered to be inadequate for anything other than sniffles and stubbed toes. To upgrade it to something that would adequately cover a small young family will cost you 5-10,000 USD. (A months pay).

Staff Travel. There are improvements in the wind, but no guarantees that any of it will ever happen. The deal as it stands now, you will have priority on KA flights, check their website to see what exotic destinations you have to choose from.

For a more detailed view, the last time I looked at the DPA website, it had a new joiners pack that would be well worth your browsing prior to any interviews with KA.

Consider also, guys are still leaving KA. Reasons are mixed. 6 senior captains very recently, the common theme is they see low cost at home is better for them, in their lives, than B scale commands in HK. Their choice. They are leaving the "golden handcuffs" for some pretty crappy jobs in their prospective homes. (Europe and Australia). Another left for medical reasons, and another sacked. All of them good operators, long service, but all just had enough of "undetermined delays."

With the benefit of having lived here, and working here, would I bring a family to hk now on the C scale? Personally, no. Hope this helps.
Lowkoon is offline  
Old 10th Jun 2014, 14:58
  #15 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: uk
Posts: 20
Thanks for all the replies especially lowkoon.
After taking it all in it seems staying put is the best option.
What a shame, I was looking forward to getting back to Hong Kong but it looks like we'll have to stick to long weekends instead.
I think as a single guy it would work but, as it stands, it would be a massive reduction in quality of life to drag the four of out.
Thanks once again
michaela74 is offline  
Old 11th Jun 2014, 01:32
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 512
Kudos to Lowkoon for laying out the economic reality for any new hire in Hong Kong. It should be required reading for all senior management at both Dragon and Cathay.

Sadly, for the past 20 years, the strategic mindset among the decision makers has been to make continuos cuts to pay and working's been happening for so long that they now cannot seem to think in any other terms.

I can only hope that this narrow line of thinking will eventually be challenged.....
raven11 is offline  
Old 11th Jun 2014, 04:23
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Eden Valley
Posts: 1,802
Everyone of the new contract pilots I work with is unhappy with their pay deal. They are hoping for an upgrade to the B scale contract or marked improvements in the special allowance.

None ( new contract pilots ) are leaving due rapid promotion and plenty seem willing to come. Also, consider the ramifications of localization ie: local spawned through a cadet or MPL process won't ever leave Hong Kong.

I can't see the special allowance increasing anytime soon. So by all means come, but don't expect the DPA or your colleagues to pull a rabbit out of the hat and get you B Scale etc despite well intentioned efforts. My point being, eventually you will be pi$$ed off and frustrated but don't deliver your frustrations where it isn't warranted!
Gnadenburg is offline  
Old 11th Jun 2014, 12:48
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: DoggPound
Posts: 42
Thanks to all for the good info so far. One more question however. In the package details on the website, it mentions education assistance. Does anyone know what this is...i.e. How much?
Skindogg is offline  

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