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Hong Kong Airlines (HKA)

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.

Hong Kong Airlines (HKA)

Old 15th Feb 2017, 22:16
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: shenzhen
Posts: 25
Hong Kong Airlines (HKA)


For the usual pubescent grammar police, let me just say I am not writing a Masterís Thesis for a grade; just putting out what might be helpful to someone with questions regarding Hong Kong Airlines (HKA)

SYNOPSIS: Itís a place, if you need a job. I categorize airlines into better places, worst places, and shitty places. HKA is in the worst place category and if you go to HKA, you will find out why for yourself. Things to consider: Housing is expensive in Hong Kong (HK), you will need a large deposit to settle in Hong Kong (3 months rent), School fees are extra-ordinarily high, you are taxed in Hong Kong generally based on 1.5 times your first years salary for the first year (approx. 15% single w/out kids, 10% with family), cars are expensive and getting around can be a pain at times, and HKA doesn't have a real commuting contract. Recommend Hong Kong Express (HKE); It's a better place simple because of the following (However, my friends there say it's not much different): More days off (The sector lengths are much longer and it's not very hard to get to 80-95 hours block at HKE; Higher monthly pay (Because of the higher block times, both FOs and CAPTs make more money than HKA); better management team (however, my friends say this is a thin distinction); upgrades for FOs have sucked for years at HKE; and of course, you are still in HK. At HKA, current upgrade times to be offered an upgrade at HKA is +4 years JAN 2017, if (IF) they like you and certain things are in line in your file.


Well right now, you get 4 weeks in a hotel (this is a recent change as of a year ago 2016, when they had to concede they needed to something) when you join and thatís it. Your first pay check will take about 4-6 weeks, depends how fast you can get the paperwork into the office. You will be given a map with photographs of buildings and addresses to start your Easter Egg hunt or a Hash run around Hong Kong get your HK ID, bank accounts, and others items in between training events. It's important to note, you can wash out here. But HKA is so desperate they will give you multiple opportunities to pass.

You will not get full pay in the month until you check to the line. You will get a blend of training pay and a proration for the month you check to the line. Training pay is crap, even crappier than most other places. (I can't emphasize how expensive Hong Kong is, remember that Hong Kong is the #1 most expensive place to live in the world.) You will get full pay the next month with full pay entitlements. Your bonus will be 1 year after you check to the line +plus 1 month, if you qualify. Your bonus can be reduced for a number of reasons that are not that hard to achieve. If you transition from the A320 to the A330 you will go back to training pay which really sucks because you will still have to pay rent and all your other bills...both CAPT AND FO's. On the face of things, it would appear that you will get a lot of money until you add up all the expenses and then factor in 10-15% fudge factor for what will really happen. This is why Cathay has always given other pays for education, housing, a first year loan, etc etc ( no I don't work for Cathay). But at HKA, you will get none of these things and you will wonder why and if they care. Ahhh No, they don't. I am just saying they don't.

You will generally be on your own here when it comes to getting thru training and getting setup in Hong Kong with very little financial help or even shepherding to get settled into HK. Especially when you consider that in Hong Kong, to lease a place you need 3 months rent; 2 mo. for the deposit and 1mo. for the move in month +plus 25%-50% agent feeÖ. Yeah fun stuff. I almost forgot that to setup most utilities you need deposits as well and a lot of things have to be paid upfront. The process can be months if you are not type rated and obviously less for rated pilots. But the license conversion is what takes time to complete mostly when you fail and have to do retakes, which happens. So, you should plan on coming out of pocket to get and keep this job. HKA is a miserably cheap company and pinches pennies at every corner. Remember you should be happy to have the job and pay for a few things is their motto. What you should do is look at how much more money & contracts Hainan offers in mainland China and what HKA offers you.

There are some really fantastic knowledgeable over worked instructors here and most of the pilot group is very nice and pleasant to fly with. However, we have a few instructors that are regularly complained about because they are just d*&ks and a*&&es. They are this way because of who they are and their egos are equally annoying. Whatís worst is that they are not effective instructors. Many came into these positions by luck and who they knew and timing. More importantly, they are not very humble here. I have seen CAPTs come in former TRE, Chief Pilots etc and basically be disrespected; it is the craziest thing. The bad instructors just don't believe anyone can know more than they do hence they make sure you know it. Not everyone is meant to be an instructor, you can be the most experienced pilot in the world and a horrible instructor. But you are never able to weed these guys out of most places, they are like a cancer with no treatment available. These guys have massive egos and they are fond of themselves and their hand in inventing aviation. Hence, they deserve to be instructors and make life miserable for all. One of the insidious things is that you can hardly challenge or correct anything with these types of instructors. I am not speaking in terms of you being rude and arrogant towards them. But they are always right and you are always wrong no matter how many years more you have been flying beyond them and you're own knowledge. It's disrespectful and ridiculous. The best thing you can hope for is that you have proactive management which help get these guys out of there; but after 20 years, this sort of thing is a rarity.

One thing you have to get use to here is that no one volunteersí information to you, you have to ask for it and you have to know what to ask for; which takes sometime in HKA to know really what questions that need to be asked. This can be immensely frustrating to deal with. You can be call into the office for one thing and end up running back home for 5 other things that they could have told you needed. Oh! Why didnít you say that on the phoneÖ.silence. The other frustrating things at HKA is that they play musical chairs all the time. You never know from month to month who the hell does what in the office. People change jobs like underwear. When you arrive into the spaces, be prepared for what I call the cold stares or just utter avoidance. In my mind, it's almost as if the office staff have a air of superiority to the pilot group. The result is a feeling of weird discomfort anytime you go into the offices. Remember also that generally most people are not going to go out of their way to help you. I thought it was me and then amongst my friends and others that I have flown with. They have made the same observations and more.

Anyway, one important thing to count on here is that whatever you are endeavoring to do. Whatever youíre calculating in terms of it's difficulty, multiple it by 2 or 3 times. It will always be 2-3 times harder and/or longer than you estimated for very, very, simple things. Also, when you join, keep everything. Every uniform item, note cards, for when you leave HKA....they charge you for everything that they give you in the beginning no matter how long you have been there. It's part of your checkout process. Oh! and make sure if you leave remember that you have to pay your taxes before getting your last check. This is what has forces guys to leave on the 29th of the month. You are paid on the 28th of each month . Why? because they always wants to be able to take pay away from you during the month, so they pay you at the end so if you are a good little boy or girl. Yes, bonding is illegal in Hong Kong. So, if you leave unexpectedly, make sure you don't plan on using them as a reference for you next job. Gotcha!

One more thing, copy all your training records, everything!!! and get your logbook signed as well. Why? because you need these things to apply for other jobs generally, line checks or sim checks etc

Why I Came?

First, before Joining HKA years ago, I was probably in the same desperate situation as you, if you are reading this post. I would read many posts and invariably someone would chime in that you should go to the interview and just get your own sense of things, which makes sense. Well from experience, that's like going on a first date, everyoneís one on their best behavior. Most of the time you get to talk only to company men and women who simply tow the company line.

I did basically break even when I left HKA. However, it did leave a bitter taste. The company truly has potential, but it squanders that potential by constantly shooting itself in the foot.

So, back to what I said before, years ago, I didnít know what to make of most of these posts that were not very positive about this company or even flying in China. Now years later, I am here to say, a great deal of it is was spot on and still remains so. While, I have seen improvements in certain places, itís far from where it should be in my mind and many who operate in this region of the world. Besides that, much of what I say here is endemic in many companies to a lessor extent in some areas or more in other areas. There are very few companies that exist today where employees or in this case pilots are happy with whatís going on; mostly because they know pilots need the jobs and love flying the shiny jets at any personal costs. Listen, I will just say that it's difficult to get the full sense of things before flying here, but once you have for a bit you will quickly understand.

For HKA, I would say what many have said in so many posts. If you need a job, don't not apply because of what I say here. Ultimately you have to feed yourself and/or your family, and sometimes you just have to grind it out at some shitty or worst places and move on to better places. Where is that place these days? Really, I have no idea. For me, itís just about making a few bucks for the next few years in China and getting out to lick my wounds and rebuild my soul if itís not too late. HKA could be in the better place category, but itís just not in the DNA of the company and management's desire to micromanage and control every aspect of employee life; and, essentially I think the place stifles all real enjoyment out of working for the company and flying airplanes like most places. Theyíre almost like a Middle East Airline in that everyone is basically a slave. I think one of the worst aspects is how the company treats almost everyone like children in need of explanation about everything. But scarier is how vengeful and vindictive the company can be. Remember this is a Chinese company operating in Hong Kong, keep this in mind.


When I started to work overseas, I tried really hard to dig up as much information about various airlines. From what I gathered about when researching certain airlines particularly ones in Asia, the reviews were mostly negative or mostly positive. So, if everyone keeps saying the same thing about a place. Itís generally true in the big picture maybe the details are not as accurate sometimes. At least, this proved to be my experience with HKA after ignoring many posts and media articles about the company. To be fair, HKA use to be far worse a place to work. So, things have improved marginally and how some people stuck it out so long here is quite amazing considering how things use to be. But my experience is that the company wants to grow desperately because it is the desire of the parent company Hainan Group which has strategic interest in Hong Kong. So, the company is willing to make very limited concessions and changes to try to improve conditions without giving away too much; it tends to be a slight of hand trick with HKA, smoke and mirrors. I found that they usual gave with one hand and took twice with the other.

Proof of this is the commuting options that they purport to have in place. In which, a very very limited number of pilots actually ďenjoyĒ and the rest of the pilot group that are interested in these options are on a waiting list.

The current commuting is a joke! It is broken down into A, B, and C options. Option A is 8 days off minimum (see the Organization section on STBY days). Option A is the Std. rostering with 28 days of annual leave. Option B was 2x 4 day blocks (with a pay reduction) 2 days of annual leave used for the 8 days per month. Option C is a 10 day block 2 days of annual days used in the block of 10 days and a pay reduction! again. You donít get to choose the days off on option B or C. For option A you have 6 days you can request off at specific times of the month, but it's just a request and you will not get 6 days in a row for sure; maybe 4 tops ! and the 2 somewhere else in the month.


HKA has a 5 tier rotating bid system for vacation that start in 2012 I think. You would think that it would be easy to look up which group you are in but I challenge you to find this info just by logging into employee website without asking someone. Anyway, you bid when your group comes up and it's generally for 7 day blocks. Can you move these days? yes, if you follow the rules and then follow up on your schedule. I tended to ignore this and just take ADHOC days which are only given if they can be accommodated on your schedule and the company doesn't need people to fly. Can leave be cancelled? yes, for training generally, CCQs, and at the discretion of the company.


Everything in the contract is written in the company's favor. Period! Will, I get a copy of the company contract before hand. NO! like a lot of places in Asia. Is it fair, no but that's how things run here.


Don't get sick and no one in family should get sick. Read healthcare carefully, itís not good.


The provisional scheme mandated in Hong Kong requires the company to contribute a certain amount to your retirement. You can only get this money when you leave Hong Kong permanently or retire. Hong Kong and most places of Asia are paperwork intensive places. You will have to fire off in general a crap load of paperwork to access benefits or other services. Additionally, you will have to travel to some remote offices in some part of the island you had no idea existed to find certain things.


HKA is run very much by HR principally, by a Chinese Board of Directors, and VPs vice say Hong Kong Chinese. For them days off are a privilege and not a right, they believe that you should be happier to be at work than to have days off. Consequently, much of the staff is worked to death and certainly the pilots are generally regarded and treated as entitled over privileged office staff. Meaning, they see the job of piloting as having the equivalent foot print and pattern as say the average office staff. This in turn frames their belief that pilot should then only have the same time off as the average office staff. As of this month from my friends that are there, they were supposed to almost do away with STBY days, however the practice continues relentlessly despite the company having to pay now a few hundred HKD per day. Donít get too excited it doesn't work out to be that much when you consider that $800 HKD is about $100 USD. But I know the pilot group at least hoped that this would keep them from standing these onerous STBY days (see my next post on 31st March 2017 on Option Days).

Whatís a STBY day? I have literally when I was there routinely had 9-12 STBY days. STBY days are given every month. The company requires you to STBY 8 hours at various time slots to hang on to your phone and uniform to be called. Yes! You are paid for the call out, but again itís not that much. Consequently, you can have days of 6 days of STBY, which I have had. The only way around this is to trade out thru the CAPT or FO informal trading done currently on Whatapp which I am sure management will find a way to quash at some point and depending on how your line is constructed, it may not be possible to trade certain trips. Recently, I know that crew scheduling have been giving the group a lot of push back and refusing or making up reason why they canít make the trade. Again, this is not an officially sanctioned thing by the company. As far as the company is concerned, you get what you get and thatís it.

Generally, yes, you will have 8 days off. Your pay is based on flying at least 50 hours in order to get full pay entitlements. So, how does this work? Well, recently with the pilot shortage of CAPTs. Some CAPTS have been flying extra ordinary times 75-95 hours a month. The pay check is good. My buddy on the A330 raked in $21000 last month JAN 2017;thatís actually pretty good compared to the previous months. Normally, the company tries to keep everyone at the same number of flight hours. It hasnít worked out that way in recent months for some CAPTs and FO's, but that is what they try to do.

Why you ask? Well, the company believes that no one pilot should have more than the other, not even if they just want to fly more. You will find that the company has wide latitude in changing your schedule and extending your duty with little rights for you to stop it except to call sick or calling fatigue. Both of which will likely be challenged by scheduling by them calling the GMF or some other big wig who will call your cell phone and treat you like the little child that they think that you are. Itís generally a one-way thing with respect at HKA, because in the end, remember that you are just a slave. Believe me, I can give you stories, but I will try to contain this to a few pages.

But I will just say that I know of one CAPT who was flying into HK after 3 legs that day on the A320 and he was called by scheduling once he landed. If I remember the story correctly (yes I know him personally), he was very close to duty limit with the extra sectors or he had some other duty limit. So, he asked could they maybe find someone else on another flight and that he had flown all day etc etc He said, he would have taken it, but he was having one of those days. Not one of those days that he needed to call in sick for or something else, but he was trying to negotiate a different outcome. I can vouch that this person is no slouch, so I am pretty sure he would have taken it on any other day. However, crew schedule asked him if he was refusing the assignment. He said no, he was not, only that he was asking if there was any other solution that could be worked out. To make it short, he ended up getting a call from the current GMF who was then the Fleet Manager (a real tool bag with a crazy Napoleonic complex because heís short and has no friends and personal lifeÖ.you know the story!) . Well the conversation was one sided with him doing his normal bullying and abusive tactic because he knows that no one is likely to kick him in the shorts on the way to his car. But do your research and if you need a job I wouldnít steer you clear of HKA. But in this region and like many places, there are very few places that are really excellent or just good places to work forÖ.itís just the truth. Certainly, if you are from the West, most of these places will frustrate you over a few years if not less.

Why will it frustrate you? Well, I would recommend googling ďFlying in China.Ē It's a good 400 page break down of flying in China and pretty damn accurate. Itís just important to keep in mind that if you are from countries that have strong labor laws and workers rights that are enforced. When you come to Asia where the concepts of work rights are in their infancy in some places and very slowly evolving and where itís the cultural norm to get along and shut up; then this isnít likely to work for you in the long run. Yes. I work for a Chinese company now and even I know there is a shelf life in the long run. Well, my motivation right now is just to make enough money to head back to Europe and buy a place in the Alps and work for a cheap airlineÖkidding! But I certainly donít intend on being in this region forever and you only really come here for the money. In the China, the money is pretty good, but it comes at a cost.


The other way is to call in sick which seems to happen a lot. There just isnít any flexibility and this creates pressure on your life as a pilot. But they hate sick calls which is why they require you to get up on the day you are sick and run to a clinic somewhere to get a sick note so you can present it to the company like a 2-year-old. HKA considers everyday a work day and will penalize you financially for each day without a note followed by a discipline board and letter in your file which will affect your annual bonus. Too many sick calls or letters for whatever and maybe no bonusÖ.I know these guys probably deserve it, if that's your first thought then HKA is the place for you and maybe a positon on the staff.


Managers wear different hats, a manager can be a LTC, SIM Instructor, TRI/TRE and Flight OPS. Sometimes this creates a conflict of interest in that if you piss off one of these guys, well they sit on most of the boards, have access to your files, and can generally make your life hell if they want. At this moment, they are now authorized to create TRE with HKCAD approval. Well, I am sure these managers will be first in line and who can blame them. You never know when you have to leave a place so you pad your bank account and keep the resume updated; and believe me this whatís done to a large extent.

Management staff are relatively young, they hold key staff positions with no critical airline experience from any part of the industry; some who are seemly faking their way through the jobs. HKA is divided into a number of different departments: Flight Ops, Ground & Maintenance, Training, Administration, and HR. These are the main departments. Seemly, no department really communicates with the other and the heads of these departments are more than a bit egotistical and complete micromanagers with a few Napoleons heading one or two of these department. The lack of organization has each department fighting each other over who knows more or who is right, which creates a company with a spinning bearing pointer. The most powerful of these departments is HR; it doesnít help that the head of HR is in a relationship with other key staff members. HR dictates what all departments do and how the company operates. I exaggerate a bit, but not really, they rule the roost. In most Major Airlines, everyone falls in line with flight operations because that is the business, flying airplanes.

But the key to understanding HKA lies in understanding Chinese Culture. This part may take more explanation than you have time to read; but again, google ďflying in china.Ē But a quick down and dirty is that most workersí rights are virtually nonexistent. Employees exist to serve the greater glory of the company. Itís all for the group not the individual and each individual serves the great purpose of the company. Additionally, workers arenít use to having or demanding rights or having labor laws. What exist in Hong Kong is simply a function of colonial leftover by the British. So, donít plan to come to HKA and say form a union because you will certainly have an uphill battle. While, Cathay has at the moment a somewhat effective Union. The journey to this point was long and arduous to say the least. Most people are just happy to have jobs and a pay check. Life for some, because Hong Kong is so expensive, revolves around simply trying to support parents, get married so you can have kids, and go to work to serve the corporate masters. Hong Kongíers and Chinese in general work very hard with exceedingly long hours. Itís a bit depressing to see how life works sometimes for some people because it is a soul sucking existence which leaves nothing but the shell of a human being after a few short years. But in truth, most of our corporate masters in the west have turn work environments into systems that are getting closer to this type of work life.


Punitive, secretive, and vindictive. Everything is recorded about you, so plan on having a secret file even they say one doesnít exist. Everyone is expected to spy on each other here and they do. As is said of most airlines in the region, show up to work keep your head down until you can leave for something better or if you like the region and donít want to move to yet another airline then you keep your head down and play the game. We all know how this is done and if you donít lose your soul in the end or slit your wrist then itís a great place to stay. But truthful, many of the regions airlines are like this Korean, EVA, Asiana, etc

Pilots here and FAs complain about the same 15 or 16 things all the time. So, plan on joining the water cooler talk about these things.


This has been getting better. However, the failure rate is quite high around 50%-60%. Why? Well, first this is not really a place you want to come and be an FO especially if you are from a Western/European country. For those who have work as FOís in this region, then it's not big deal for you. So, you have gotten used to being treated like a pee on and know nothing different. Yes, if you know everything in the FOMs, have the flight hours, survive the HR interview, survive the panel interview, never called in sick, and no issues in your training file. Yes, you will upgrade at some point. However, remember you have to upgrade the A320 if you are on the A330.

Yes, Captains here are treat much better; but much of the Captainís authority, as in many places in the Middle East, USA, & Europe, has been gutted for the most part. Captainís do whatever is in the company manual and thatís it. If you donít you better have a dam good reason because you will be fired without hesitation. Most Captains that are hired donít have to go thru the same gauntlet of deadly trials to upgrade. But this sort of battery or challenge course exist in many other places as well not just HKA (see my post on 26 Feb 2017).


A320: Expensive with loads of delays on the A320 fleet that will frustrate you to no end. Life is better on the A330 and soon A350. Patterns tend to be day or night turns into China; others are 1-1, 1-0-1; 3-0-3;3-0-1;1-0-3. A 1-0-1 is one sector out, stay 24 hours, then fly back on day 3. This can be frustrating because you will likely only net 4 hours in 3 days. Van times to the hotel can be 30min-1 hour. Arrival and times are all over the place. Recently, HKA built a new crew room. Well, I found it a pain in the ass. If you are on the A330 you would think that you might show up at the airport maybe 3-4 times a month. Not at HKA, you have TPE turns, PVG turns, etc very very short turns. Remember also that when the A350 arrives, I think it's like 3 aircraft initially. It won't immediately do long haul flights. It will do short sectors for a least 6 months first as a part of the HCAD requirements. So, right now, on say the A330, you can have line with no Australia, New Zealand, etc still a crap load of short sectors. This requires you to go to the airport numerous times during the month. Right now, that means, a process that requires 30 minutes at least from the entry of the airport to the new crew room. You are required to be there 1.5 hours prior to take off. This means you need to get to the airport 2 hours before, at least. Oh! I am delayed 7 hours going to PVG. Yes! nothing is canceled ever...it takes miracles. So, you live in the mid-levels on HK Island. It will take you a minimum of 45 minutes to get to the airport if you are lucky plus 2 hours plus 7 hours delays plus 2-2.5 hours for the sector plus 1 hour to the hotel and the time it took to get ready to fly this 1:0:1 trip. After all this, you will get 4 hours of pay. Welcome to HKA! and yes, lots of delays in China due to limited routes, wx, airspace issues, ATC, military training in the middle of the airspace etc etc


Itís laughable. If you want to travel on STBY or any of the other passes theyt are limited here at HKA. HKA only has a few airlines that you can purchase ID/ZED passes on. Even so, if I want to purchase a pass. You have to email a form to the company travel. Then await a response. Then, you need to send a receipt for funds transmitted to the company and then await a response with the ticketed STBY passes. Maybe 4-6 four days minimum, if you are stuck on the day of travel and need to change a pass; hmmm forget it!! You have to go back thru the process. The good news is that they tend to be valid for a few months. Remember that you have to opt_in by emailing the company in after 6 months after your line check to get travel pass privileges with the company or ID with other airlines which is a very limited list that itís pretty much useless. NOTHING here is automatic! (see my post on 26 Feb 26 updated)


Fill out a jump seat form and take to the GMF or the secretary for signature. Then send an email to the CAPTAIN of the flight for notification and then get a signature on the day of your jump seat flight. I never use it because it was ridiculous.
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Old 26th Feb 2017, 11:14
  #2 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: shenzhen
Posts: 25
Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) update 1

Every month, there is a pilot/management meeting to make suggestions and air grievances. Don't get too exited it's really a dog and pony show, but most of your suggestions will be balled up and filed appropriately under we don't give a sh#$ category Like many places, it's all for show and the only guys that go there including one of my friends live in a world of their own delusion that company really is listening. Well, HKA like many places, only listen what they want to hear and what works for them.

Recently one those meetings occurred and here are the highlights:


Apparently I was way wrong about the upgrades pass rate at HKA, I had heard it was 50-60% or so. In the meeting, 23rd FEB 17, it's apparently 38% pass the gauntlet . Let me say that again, 38%.

Well, I new the upgrade process was rough but that's pretty rough. Keep in mind these are guys that have been at the company a number of years and previously at other airlines not cadet programs. So, it's rough.

Here's my take on things: If you are a DEC you will have a much easier time with the interview process and a lot more latitude to join HKA. However, once you're in. By about your 1st PC, you can expect that you performance needs to be sharper than your interview and in line with the company standards.

However, for the FO that wants to upgrade, it's a merciless gauntlet complete with dragons to take you out. It really is a crazy process. The minimums are what they are and I have seen that they do take guys who don't necessarily meet all the minimums but have been there a number of years and at least have 2000hrs on company jets plus other hours and factors of course. But it normally involves if I remember correctly 2 panel interviews then you wait for awhile to get the results; then 2 PC checks; company exams on OM-A company policy SOPs aircraft systems etc then a board is confined to evaluate all the candidates etc and they decide who will start upgrade training. Oh don't forget to factor in the secret file which will include sick calls and any nasty notes.

This process can be lengthy and if you fail 2x, you are FO for life. Keep in mind this process use to be harder than this, early part of 2016 to mid last year was when things changed as they needed to make upgrades happen. But in this process unfortunately, they made perfection the enemy of good enough but i guess that has always been the case. You are hardly ever going to have a perfect upgrade candidate, there is a maturation and period of time needed to develop into a real CAPT once you get your 4 bars. So, I think they focus too much on trying to get guys to show up perfect and it creates an intense amount of pressure. Plus the process isn't comfortable at all, I am not saying you have to cuddle with the guys and gals. But they seem to make it into a KGB integration and a few of the instructors who have the final say are complete you know what. so, good luck!

Apparently the 40 T requirement will not go away anytime soon.....this is based on the long standing belief in the industry that if you have 10000 RJ hours then flying a 737 is a bridge too far. It's just the system, I don't write the rules.

Oh! keep in mind that seniority really is irrelevant here like most other places in the world. It only matters who fly's first on long haul flights or who gets to sleep first that about it. Beyond that it doesn't really matter one bit. Having said that, this means you can be upgraded out of order in terms of the seniority list. It's not the most transparent system in the world like a lot of places.


They are trying to implement a new travel program which will allow you to use more ZEDs with other company's. But I heard that for a long time and it still didn't come to true when I was there.

Update: April 2017, HKA will announce MyIDtravel. This program is run by Lufthansa. But it's not clear how many companies HKA will have access to since I believe you have to have a reciprocal agreements or belong to an alliance.

Update: 28 May 2017, No My ID travel at HKA. I am not so optimistic about this since the companies loves control over your freedom. If they join this program, the data about peoples travel doesn't come to the company and they really want this information; just in case they need to fire you for something.


Stand by days are not going away either. You still can have 6 days in a row of stby's and 9-11 days of it in a month.

note: Be careful too when you arrive at HKA, they like to use what I call amorphous type words in the contracts or proposed changes or guidelines. Words like," Pilots who are eligible for a 3% pay increase." Here, eligible is the amorphous word, it's not concrete, but it should imply to you loop hole or several in the companies favor. They sometimes never define what it is deliberately so that if you have an issue they can at the last minute decide what eligible means. This is the HKA way! Good Luck!
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Last edited by flyer25; 28th May 2017 at 08:10. Reason: HKA travel system update 2 & Upgrade requirements
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Old 27th Feb 2017, 04:16
  #3 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: shenzhen
Posts: 25
Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) update 2


This is something that I forgot mention from the pilot meeting highlights. Apparently, you are no longer able to trade a trip with another person who has greater than 50 hours while you have less than 50 hours. This change was done I almost guarantee you by the GMF....I will reserve my choice words. Remember the company wants you to have more than 50 hours for the distribution to equal with everyone, ideally. Why? I have never ran the numbers but besides wanting everyone to have the same hours. The company believes that if some pilot are paid more based on the increasing overtime pay after 50 hours then the company has more cost. Like I said, I have never run the numbers to see if an even distribution with everyone around 55 hours cost less overall than a distribution where some guys have high hours and others lower than 50 hours. IDK.

HKA has a very crude trading system. You log into the company system and then you can pull up your schedule and look up other people schedule. However, to do this you have to have a printed list of everyones company number and/or name. The system allows you to look up one crew member at a time and look at their schedule. You can do a wide field search base on the days and trip and pull up everyone who would be flying on those days. Then you can click on each persons name one at a time and see their schedule.

It is very very tedious process. You will have to take copious notes and go thru schedules generally to examine exactly if you can legal make the trade. Then you send a request to the other party to see they are interested in the trade and if they are, then you can submit the trade online to scheduling. Depending on the time of day etc this trade could happen quickly or take hours. So, you keep checking to see if it is approved. If it takes too long you can call in and they can take a look at things if they feel in the mood to do so. Trading is just something that they are not enthusiastic about because the scheduling system is so crude that they see it as a pain for them.

This process has been usurped by a whatsapp trading forum where you can post trades and save a bit of time from having to go thru everyone's schedule one by one. So, on the forum you can specify or screen shot your schedule and assuming that most people check you maybe be able to advertise a trade. Not everyone is on the forum, but it's a large enough pool that you will likely get a bite. Once someone agrees you will need to log into the company website and post the trades formally to scheduling. You call only to push the trade or try to confirm things.
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Old 4th Mar 2017, 09:06
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2000
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Usd $21000 for Capt?
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Old 6th Mar 2017, 19:48
  #5 (permalink)  
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Salary Question

$21,000? I actually re-read my whatsapp message with my bud. He actually quoted an amount slightly higher than 21k which starts to be in the range of what management pilots make per month. This higher value seems a bit much, but 21k does appear reasonable if you are north of 90 block hours which he states that he was. You have to remember that you will make for every 10 block hours above 50 hours a different and higher pay rate at HKA; then add a few red eye payes and maybe a few callouts for standby days etc etc But I am not sure how important that fact is. He has kids and a wife in Hong Kong; and I can tell you that money was already spent before it hit his account. Yes, you can take deductions for depends in HK, however, I know a guy that pays 40k HKD for his place in Discovery Bay. $21k is about 163500 HKD. So, let's take at least 15% for HK taxes if you are smart and this accounts for the additionally taxes that you are asked to pay in advance for the next tax year. This leaves you with 139000 HKD now minus 40000 HKD for his place in DB. Now, you at 99000 HKD ($12750 USD approx.). If you have 3 kids in school, just minus $4000 USD minimum. Now you have about $ 8750 USD optomistcally to pay bills, food, utilities, travel, commute, entertainment, etc etc You can find a place cheaper in Tung Chung for much less and rent even in DB. But this is just a scenario for my buddy who pays 40K HKD for rent.
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Old 6th Mar 2017, 20:13
  #6 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: shenzhen
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Safety Department

Yes, like many companies in the Middle East, China, etc etc The FOQA program in the US and other programs in Europe are more fair to the pilot crew. However, HKA like a number of places has an entire department of people who's job is to find issues with how you operate the aircraft. But the fact finding is not designed necessarily to improve your performance and help you become a better pilot as much as it is to assign blame and put you out of work. I have rarely heard stories of positive interactions with the safety department and certainly at HKA everything is thrown into your file and counts against monetary incentives and renewal of your contract.

If you have an entire department being paid, you can bet they will have to find fault with something. You're just not going to have a week that someone is not called for something. Moreover, you have to return most paperwork back to the company as a part of the CAD requirements , for ETOPS flight etc it's practically everything that you briefed and flew with.

You can be called for missing items. But of course, getting called for not signing a logbook or improper entires affects the relationship with the CAD and has ramifications that make things difficult for the company because these things are legal requirements that are audited.

Oh! one thing to keep in mind is that everyone is under the gun and fear losing their jobs in HK. A good job is hard to come by and when you are trapped in HK. Gate Agents, Ramp personal, FAs, will generally try to push the blame for things off on you as the CAPTAIN.

Most if not all responsibility is on your shoulders and the SOPs etc are all written this way so always take note of when you arrive at the aircraft, how much fuel on board, cause of delays, when crew scheduling called, who you called etc use your smart to take pictures and make notes when things are happening out of the ordinary. Hope that answers the question.
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 01:04
  #7 (permalink)  
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Flyer you seem to have a lot of info. Do you have any on Hong Kong Express ? How do they compare to HKA ?
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 01:31
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Wow. Reading this just makes me feel soooooo happy about my current gig. Pay is good, easy lifestyle, relaxed 10 minute drive to work, tropical living, cheap col, big house paid for by the company, excellent crew, good people to work with, roster up to 6 weeks in advance. I could go on, but I'm on standby so need to head off to the gym (also provided by the company).
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 03:50
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2015
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0ne sixty FFS don't tell anybody anymore. They'll think we work for a living..
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 04:14
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Great Insight into the corporate Psyche:
Why so much power given to HR ? If anything they can only hinder the growth and "esprit de corp" of the organisation!!! My only guess its a left over of communistic control.
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 06:24
  #11 (permalink)  
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Yes these communistics cant let go.
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 06:52
  #12 (permalink)  
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Location: shenzhen
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How HKE compares to HKA

Well, I can't speak with any in-depth knowledge of the HKE's way of life except what I heard from friends while waiting on the bus station in DB or running into guys during pass training. I have more current info on HKA obviously, but both company's are part of the Hainan Group but are treated quite differently if you look at the contracts issue in mainland verses Hong Kong. I do know for sure will have more time off at HKE than HKA which is a result of the sector lengths that they fly on the A320 more than anything else. HKA flies very short sectors sometimes and have a very inefficient patterns on the A320 in comparison to HKE. At HKA you will have 3 day trips on the A320 to say Chengdu which we call a 1:0:1. So it's about 2.5-.7 from HK to Chengdu. But it's a very nice overnight. But a waste of 3 days of your life to get 5 block hours. This is how HKA manages to keep everyone around 50 block hours per month. At HKE, my understanding is that they fly say HK to Seoul overnight and comeback. 5 of those on your schedule and you are already over 50 block hours at HKE. But my understanding is that most people have very high block hours which will pay them well and give them more days of to live a life. But I believe they have some of the same structural issues with the company but I think it's a bit worst maybe at HKA. So, that is the significant difference between HKA and HKE. As well, they don't really upgrade so often, you are likely to stay an FO for a long time if you are not a DEC. But if you have specific questions about HKE, I can ask a few friends that current work there and try to relay it here.
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 07:39
  #13 (permalink)  
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Ahh Dusky, I think you hit it on the head. But nothing I say here will change it anytime soon so you just have to accept the deal. Things change at a snails place here in Mainland China or Hong Kong. It's about control, it's been that way from the dawn of men and women. We have always had systems of control of the masses thru various methodologies religions, economic, governmental, etc etc People are conditioned here to be lorded over by the government system, employer, etc etc. It's the structure of things for now. But I do see things in certain areas of China changing but very very slowly. Well, let me qualify that, by say that in the major cities life seems to be accelerating out of control in terms of people entering the middle class and looking for the same things that are in western countries. As China, expands and opens it's market even more to fully in brace Capitalism, not that I am a fan of Capitalism, then the people will naturally want to have more control of their private life, work life, and even government rights or concepts that will include many more ideas of rights. This will naturally lead to a struggle with the current system. This struggle exist today, but it is not so easy to speak out still and demand changes as it is in the west. So, people here tend to keep their feelings on matters private, any threat to the system could land you in trouble. Most of the freedoms that you see today that are left in say America or Europe took centuries to materialize and lots of blood shed to forge. Proof of change in China can only be measure by maybe older guys who remember a China 30 years ago that looks nothing as it does today.

But I have gotten way far a field from the question. HR in at least the case of HKA is designed to maintain employer control of employees, the pilots being contractual employees. If you are a good boy or girl at HKA, you can be offered a permanent contract with HKA and this does happen. But you really have to keep your head down and don't rock the boat. Most of the happiest guys at HKA do this or live in the Philippines or Malaysia or somewhere else. They try to build a life away from the company and just stay out of the stream of conflicts and go with the flow. But as you read the contract language, you will immediately realize that all the language favors the company in all aspects the company maintains an iron clad leverage on you. So, read the contract carefully at HKA, there is also a confidentiality clause included in the contract at HKA about releasing the contents or it's language to the public. Again, always trying to maintain the company leverage and also hide things like bonds which are illegal in HK and not enforceable in courts HK. So, why even include this if this is not enforceable? The real reason is I believe hidden mostly in termination language when you leave illegally and maybe it gives the company leverage for recovery in a court if you took them to court they could complicate your case by trying to recoup training cost while stepping aside from the specific language of a bond. I also believe it conditions you psychologically to believe you owe something HKA and plants a seed in your head that you can not leave easily. HKA just recently lost a labor case, brought by a few pilots with regards to the 28 days of annual pay. I asked my bud about it. It will require the company to give 48 days of annual leave or pay 20 days for annual leave to each pilot per year. The company wasn't happy as most companies are never happy to be told to comply and have remained silent while they examine how they can legally get out of it. They did issue an internal email with regards to it but they were short on specifics as they normal do at the company. We will see how things play out. But this is the way here, so either you like it or you move on somewhere else. But things are not so good in many places as I have said, so you are really stuck these days with a lot of these companies and policies that are not so friendly or rather favorable to pilots. The money is attractive and believe me, but the path can be very complicated to make a life in HK or China as many of you have already read in other post. But I always recommend a commuting contract if you can get it.

Last edited by flyer25; 9th Mar 2017 at 03:11. Reason: Correcting court case information
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 12:32
  #14 (permalink)  
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Wasnt that long ago.. I remember that HKA and HKE pilots and cabin crew had to memorise and recite the company creed.. and fifty lashes for those who didnt.

Pilots in Hong Kong ordered to memorise and recite company creed | TopNews
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Old 7th Mar 2017, 13:01
  #15 (permalink)  
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Well these days, you will not be able to interact on any level except them checking on you during the flight. Their state can only be described as whipped puppies. I was never quite sure all that the company minions did to them in their far off training rooms. But they produce highly obedient staff... you say jump and they say how high. On the road you will hardly interact with FAs, this is part of a larger program. But it might be for the best because truthful, most guys will just get themselves into trouble they don't need and most of you that have been around know exactly what I mean. But they do live in a not so happy world.
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Old 9th Mar 2017, 01:43
  #16 (permalink)  
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Thank you Flyer 25
If only Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels could digest the above.........
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Old 13th Mar 2017, 20:34
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Pilot Assessment

Hi everyone, I have read all posts . I have almost 4000 hours of flying experience in corporate airplanes here in south america, but It has been harder to pay the bills and I fly no more than 20 hours per month.

I know before applying in ASIA that Hong Kong is a very expensive place, but I received an invitation for the next pilot Roadshow in Lima,Peru; I will be attending and I would like to know if someone could give me any information about the roadshow. I will have:
Welcome briefing
Stage1: Technical Knowledge Test

Stage 2: English Pre Screening Test (approximately 30 minutes per candidate)
Stage 3: Management Interview (approximately 40 minutes per candidate)
Stage 4: Forms and licensing documents collection

Stage 5: Simulator Assessment - CAE Lima Training Center

What has happened that they are recruiting many pilots? Just for the new A350īs?

As I said I read the posts and I do respect all your comments but I think will be flying more in HKA, a nice Airplane and I will be able to pay the bills here( Iīm engaged but I would be leaving alone in HK at the beginning).

Thank you in advance and happy landings.
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Old 17th Mar 2017, 15:04
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2017
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HongKong is very very expensive for families
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Old 20th Mar 2017, 21:21
  #19 (permalink)  
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Age: 50
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Amazing description

Amazing description of HKA !
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Old 30th Mar 2017, 21:40
  #20 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: shenzhen
Posts: 25
Update to HKA Schedule

In a previous post, I spoke about the dreaded STBY days at HKA that require you to be tethered to your phone & your living room for 8 hours without pay. Then the company announced it would pay peanuts for those 8 hours amounting to about $10-20$ USD per hour. Well, HKA being HKA a creative airline that likes to give with one hand and take 2 things from you with the other. As HKA decided to pay for STBY days they realised that if you had 11-12 days of STBYs on a pilot's schedule they would boost everyones income each month by potentially $1000 USD to $2000 depending on the seat you occupied. So, the genius's instituted what are called "O" days. Optional off days, so essentially you can be given 12 days of STBYs which at the companies discretion can be converted to "O" days. This prevents them from having to pay you the pilot for the STBY days. However, the problem with this is that they can convert your "O" day into "STBY" days the evening before.

Gents and ladies, you just can't make this stuff up. Again, keep in mind that HKA belongs to the Hainan Group one of the wealthiest companies in China.

But as I have said before, if you need a job, I would certainly not be the one to tell you not to take it on the chin for a while with HKA to get a few type ratings potentially and flight time while you figure a few things out other career options. They are really ramping up the the A350 pipeline so it's another type rating you can have at HKA. However, internally, they have created requirements for you to be accepted to CCQ[Correction this will be a transition/difference course of about 2-3 weeks the last I heard] to the A350. Unless you are a DEC or DEFO on the A350 [Correction there are currently no DECs or DEFO to the A350 as the aircraft is not on property. However, the company does have DEC and DEFO to the A320/330], you will need a few years at the company to move up to the A350. But the A350 will not initially go straight to long haul flying since it has a break in period before be able to get approval from the HKCAD to fly long haul with the company. [I am almost sure the company will accept DECs and DEFOs when the A350 is on property. I will keep you posted]

Last edited by flyer25; 2nd Apr 2017 at 03:31. Reason: Corrections
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