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-   -   Spring Airlines (https://www.pprune.org/south-asia-far-east/475453-spring-airlines.html)

Twin2040 18th Mar 2012 21:26

Nearsight - Thanks for a great post - was tempted to try China, but think I stay - on less pay - in Europe

rollingscissors 22nd Mar 2012 01:35

Do not be tempted by China. Many pilots look at the high pay and want it just as hungry dogs want meat baiting a bear trap. It is a very backward place to work and live. Not just Spring Airlines, but the whole thing.

Sure, you get beaucoup yuan and new planes. You also get a wildly reactionary and tempermental aviation authority that thinks nothing of destroying your career. You get a political / economic / social system that will amaze in its capacity to ruin.

Hungry dogs at a bear trap.

Falcon0001 26th Apr 2012 20:21


What an aptly chosen name. Your description of what is going on at Spring Airlines is well, pretty nearsighted indeed.

And yes, I know personally. I work for an agency dealing with airlines around the World, including China and Spring. If you think the following is biased, this is your privilege.

I was in Shanghai four weeks ago and had a couple of beers with a dozen or so of our Spring expat pilots at the Big Bamboo on Hongmei Lu. What I heard there does quite not match what you and others are saying on this thread about Spring.

In general terms, our pilots told me they are happy at Spring and in Shanghai with the occasional beefs here and there. Yes, people are p....d off with layover hotels. Some of them are downright not acceptable. To say the least, this is still an ongoing campaign. More work in this regard is needed for sure. We are trying.

On the whole, most agreed that Spring has improved a lot since the first arrivals of expats there by Spring 2010. But it has certainly been a learning experience on both sides of the fence.

You are right, airline medicals are a lot more thorough in China than in the West. But I have attended medical exam sessions in China with our pilots and I always have seen an airline appointed doctor present to assist candidates. The idea is not to screw candidates. If there is a small problem, everybody, the airline's doctor, our agency (always present at the medicals) will be there to try and sort out the problem. I have even seen remedial medical procedures undertaken to clear a problem, with subsequent medical acceptance.

Chinese medicals are no worse than Japanese, Middle East medicals or are certainly more lenient than the newly required Air Force medicals in India. We always advise our candidates to prepare for the medical by exercising, cutting down on cigarettes or booze for a couple of weeks before the screening. This seems to help. The major medical deal breakers are mostly related to potential heart conditions, i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol count, etc…

But let me tell you, I believe that if you flunk a Chinese medical, my advice is to have a long conversation with your personal physician. You more than likely need that chat.

Training delays are an issue. Line checks take a long time to happen. But once you are checked out, you are OK. People do their flights and go home and, in this case, enjoy Shanghai. Do not go on an expat job with the idea of telling everybody how to do things, whether you are right or not. Do your job than relax.

Pilots who started with Spring in May 2010 have received all their full salary and end of year bonuses in full and on time. Nobody I know there has been docked with a penalty (as of late March when I was there). The biggest gripe is with the layover hotels.

When people accept to work in a foreign country, they accept to live and work by the local culture and local rules. And, yes, there are major cultural differences between Chinese culture (including social mores, business culture, employee/employer relations, etc...) and Western culture. Sometimes the cultural shock can be, well... a shocker. But you will find the same reality in other parts of Asia (Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc...), the Middle East, Africa, etc...

One fact to be taken into consideration is that Asian and Middle East people are more conservative when it comes to making decisions. When people make mistakes, there are consequences. Those can be much more dramatic then in the West. This creates an environment where day-to-day decision-making is much more cautious and conservative. If a major flight test (a CAAC one) is failed, in most circumstances, few people at the airline are likely to take a chance with the unsuccessful candidate. Nor people at other airlines.

Does this means that there no dynamism in Asian societies. Not by a long shot. Just look at the commercial and financial achievements we see today in Asia. But thousands of years old cultures and societies do not change in a few years. Nevertheless, see the China of today and compare with the China of fifty years ago. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.

A lot has been said about Chinese employment contracts. So I will not repeat here all the inanities said in the past about them. But first, one needs to understand the basics underlying the way Chinese employment contracts are written. As previously said in one of the posts in this thread, Chinese are employed for life.

It is thus very hard for Chinese employers to fire employees, Chinese or not. The way around this is to write employment contracts that will encompass and describe as broadly as possible a series of circumstances giving employers the leeway to let go a really unwanted employee. This is why many Chinese expat employment contracts have these long lists of minor and major mistakes.

The major problem with Chinese expat employment contracts is that, in many cases, the English version and the Chinese version of the contract do not match. Most of the times, contracts are translated in Chinese using translation software. This approach leaves a lot to be desired. This is why in many instances, we found that we (nor even Chinese employers) could understand what some of the clauses meant. This is why the airlines and expat pilots are, very often, not in the same page and end up having different interpretations of their contracts. Both are reading a different version of the contract. Most agencies do not care about this.

The agency I work for spent close to 25,000 US$ in independent Chinese translation and legal advice to ensure both the Chinese and the Chinese versions of the employment were as close as possible to each other. Also, we send a blank version of the contract to all the candidates applying for positions with our customers whether in China or not. Candidates know forehand what the employment terms are. No last minute surprise.

In general terms, Spring is no worse, and actually better, than many other Chinese and non-Chinese airlines. Within the constraints of cultural heritage, they have tried and have succeeded in improving themselves. Yes, more improvement possible, indeed. This is a work in progress.

In conclusion, I do not subscribe to your (and others in this thread) general condemnation of all Chinese airlines and specifically Spring Airlines. Most are trying to do better and, yes, will need to get better. Agencies have to educate them on to how to better manage their expat pilots. They will succeed with the help of their agencies.

I know by experience that this is a delicate exercise, a tight balancing act. But, if this done with tact and diplomacy, I know it can work. I have seen it happen numerous times with our customers.

If you want to talk to some of our pilots at Spring, Let me know

I am looking forward to your comments.

theexpat 28th Apr 2012 01:49

If you think the following is biased...
Dear Falcon 0001,

I will try to be short and to the point in my answer, people don't read long essays... But I have read yours entirely.
It is quite obvious you are in the business of recruiting pilots and you make a living from it. And I would bet anything, Spring is one of your potential clients, or maybe an actual client... Therefore, you have to defend at any cost your potential source of revenue. That is fair game...

One should not confuse culture and basic rules and regulations pertaining to the aviation world, and to name only one, crew rest facilities for pilots. Don't lose sight of the big picture, they are the ones looking for pilots and if they need us they will have to show they are able to adapt to the situation. Differences in culture does not give them permission to be exempt from following the basic rules. The Chinese are the greatest at making fake products, and aviation is no exception, ''smoke and mirrors'' rings a bell?...
On your last visit to Shanghai, you said you were having beers with the boys, did you stay at the Homeyo hotel, which is the standard 1-1/2 stars? By the way this is the standard for the crew on the road. Or should I bluntly accept it, based on the differences in culture? It is nice to be Zen when you are not in one's shoe.
The pilots are not home every night any more. With the new schedule as of November 2011, they spend half their working days in hotel like the Homeyo or worse in fact...
If you are working for a recruiting agency and represent some pilots at Spring, what have you done to educate the Airline ?
I stand by my comment I made before on pprune. Let's agree to disagree on the subject.

One last comment about the great Asia's success story, don't be fooled, part of it is due to the way they control their currency via the central bank, their very low wages and having no opposition in their governing structure. But this is a different subject.
Keep on working on the cultural differences...

radarvector320 28th Apr 2012 01:57


It's pretty obvious who you are and who butters your bread. "Proof is in the pudding"? China's economy is fostered on the backs of it's people. Low wages and no labour rules. I would say Nearsight (based on my research and chats with those in the Chinese aviation community) has done a marvelous job of describing the work enviornment in China. You on the other hand would suffer financially should the truth actually be exposed. Fair enough.

You're obviously an agent. What have you done to improve the situation for the pilots that you've placed there over the last couple of years? Are pilots actually paying for their hotel rooms? Yes they are. What are you doing about that? My understanding is that this issue has been dragging on for months now. These are the little things that you could be more proactive with in terms of improving the quality of life for those that have chosen to work in China. It's things like this that keep me out of China.

Don't use cultural differences as an excuse for the airlines inability to provide better rest conditions while on crew rest or anything else in the name of culture for that matter. To say the Chinese are more conservative in their decisions is the biggest overstatement of the year and frankly points to the fact of how "nearsighted" you are. Their only fear is the QAR. If their "decision" won't be recorded electronically then anything is fair game for them. While parts of your post are somewhat insightful and not as biased as could be given your occupation it does need deeper insight. Perhaps you should get to the bottom of how your pilots really feel...

nearsight 17th May 2012 16:23

I could go on an offensive and revisit his post point-by point, but instead I ask readers to read these posts with the knowledge that I am a pilot in this airline offering advice and insight, whilst Falcon is from a very small "finders-fee" only contract agency with little interest in pilot welfare once they are signed up.

In his post, as in practice, you can see he offers only excuses, not solutions or support.

Further to my post above and given the shortage of pilots in Spring Airlines;
I advise any prospective pilots to negotiate their contract such that all bonuses are to be paid monthly, not annually or on completion. I also highly advise on stipulating a minimum acceptable hotel standard.
Pilots have been asking for these changes (amongst many) from the very start, but only now is the airline is beginning to listen.

Make sure it is in writing, and (with hindsight I may add) make sure you sign with a real pilot agency.

(with hindsight)

springaviator 6th Jun 2012 00:04

Dear Falcon...
You would be out of your depth in a parking lot puddle. You wouldn't know a clue if it walked up to you, bit you on the ass, and announced 'I AM A CLUE'. However, I'll consider letting you have the last word if you guarantee it will be your last. To quote Thomas Brackett Reed:"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."

Calling you dull is a gross underestimation of just how tedious you are. You have the personality of a damp sponge and the appeal of a moldy sweat sock. Looking at you, Darwin would NOT be pleased to see how inefficiently evolution sometimes works. Maybe you wouldn't be such a Jerk-In-The-Box if you weren't so dense that light bends around you; if your weren't so fat that when you stand on the Speaking Scale, it screams, or if you didn't have a face like a bulldog chewing a stinging nettle while taking a constipated dump in a heat wave. Who am I kidding? You would.

In future, wake up the dozy peglegged hamster operating that wheel-powered brain of yours before you start typing.

TAKE A LOOK AROUND: FINES, HOTELS, SIMS, MEDICALS AND GENERAL ATTITUDE. They have not changed. And by the way, near sighted does have a point, be it in the sarcastic title elected or in the points made for the general benefit of pilots considering such contract. This should put you at ease... or does it not?

de facto 6th Jun 2012 03:08

My airline seems like heaven:cool:

flyingguyforjob 2nd Jul 2012 04:46

penalty culture
If you ask me, i would consider a carrier in the middle East. Seems that China is behind the times with their penalty culture. A friend told me they took 12k from a guy for an altitude bust which was due primarily to communication problems. Also, they apparently put the pilots in horrible hotels. A recent contract has a lot of alterations which penalize, for example they have to pay for re-training if they fail any check ride!

WYOMINGPILOT 2nd Jul 2012 04:53

Stay in Atlanta Bob, you won't like it over here, it is horrible!!!!!

de facto 2nd Jul 2012 06:13

yeah it's terrible:E

stinkyfish 4th Jul 2012 02:46

Hang on guys - progress is being made! My buddy tells me they just gave a foreign pilot a month off for improper dress code while on duty AND a financial penalty. Unfortunately another altitude bust by a foreigner recently. Waiting for the verdict on that one. Standby for new atis message. And they wonder why they can't get pilots :ugh:

defaultspeed 6th Jul 2012 06:03

Will they learn!?

Seems like the Middle East is the place to be. I have not heard of thesehuge penalties in other parts of the world. I considered leaving the sandbox,but I think I will stay right here. Job security, travel benefits, medicalcoverage, no crazy penalties. Concerning the guy who received the huge penaltyfor an altitude bust..., $12k I believe?... My friend knows him. Apparently theoriginal contract he signed with Spring did not even contain language whichwould legally allow Spring to penalize him that amount of cash!. I agree,Legally, Spring is on shaky ground even trying to enforce this insane type ofpunishment. Even more insane is there apparent inability to see how theseactions are seriously impairing their ability to crew their airplanes. Otherissues which have impacted my decision;

The apparently horrible hotels. I have seen unbelievable pics of some ofthese places and would almost imagine them to be photoshopped, they look soshity.

The end-loaded bonuses.

The contract terms which allow Spring to charge the pilot for RE-TRAINING ifhe fails and sim or training event!?

Best of luck to you there.

flyingguyforjob 8th Jul 2012 05:05

Going to the middle east
Are you kidding me?!
A fine and a month off for a dress code violation? Was he walking around the plane in cruise flight naked! What dress code violation would possible give them the right to penalize a guy for a month’s pay!? I also heard another altitude bust happened. Any idea what they finned that pilot? Should be interesting to see how they handle this one. What was the previous altitude violation?....$12k!? Does anyone know if that pilot is going to challenge or has challenged that punishment/fine?

Well, I have elected to go to Middle East. The non-sense you all are dealing with there is beyond common sense. How do theyt hink they are going to retain new pilots let alone recruit new pilots. I heard from another source that a bunch of Spanish guys were scared off during the interview process. Good thing they learned the truth before accepting the position! :D

FAC1fault 12th Jul 2012 03:02

They took 12k for an altitude bust
I am the pilot whom received the 12k penalty for the altitude bust at Spring Air. I have avoided posting for obvious reasons, as you might imagine.
However, a few weeks ago, I was asked to post aresponse to “Clear up” the rumors. So, Iwill simply state; There is a provision in the current contract for this type ofpunishment. There is not a provision in my first year contract which wouldcause them to unequivocally penalize me to this extent. The difficulties they are having recruiting new pilots could be easily solved with a repeal of this heavy fine. I hope this clears things up a bit.

USMCProbe 12th Jul 2012 10:08

My contract at my Chinese carrier ended over 3 weeks ago. I was just informed that I had an "absence" from my scheduled simulator that I was scheduled to be in yesterday. I wonder if they will try to fine me for this?
You gotta love working in China. Or not.

JotaJota 12th Jul 2012 18:55

FAC1 that's total BS. $12k for an altitude bust. With the 50 mile lateral and 2k feet+ vertical separation they use in China... What a joke!

USMC, now that's funny... You missed your sim session... LOL! Where are you hdg now? Back to the states?

climbhappy 13th Jul 2012 02:56

funny how perception is reality.

i like flying in china...once i got pass the culture shock..
the people are overall friendly...yes i know about the caac and the crazyness. but it is not entirely overall.....

i like the country...have many chinese friends and hope to stay many years. have been 2 years...

for me it is about attitude and thankful i have a good job. it seems to work for me..

all the best!
happy landings

Bolshevik 13th Jul 2012 12:48

:= That was funny as hell :D

climbhappy 14th Jul 2012 03:22

laughter is good for the soul...im doin just fine...got to go..my chinese girlfriend needs servicing again..geez it's only 1122..

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