The average monthly salary of Vietnamese pilots working for Vietnam Airlines was 41% lower than their foreign colleagues’ last year, a gap that caused many to quit.
A recent report by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, which flagged this, said the 829 Vietnamese pilots working for the carrier received on average VND85 million (US$3,620) a month while the 152 foreign pilots got paid VND145 million.
The latter work for Vietnam Airlines through a third-party agency and are not directly on its payroll.
The airline plans to increase its payroll by 2025, when it will have 1,044 Vietnamese pilots.
The average salary of Vietnamese pilots will be hiked by 59% by then to VND134.8 million.
But foreign pilots’ salaries will be increased by 93% to VND279.2 million, increasing the wage gap between to 52%.
The ministry said the carrier could not afford higher salaries for Vietnamese pilots, and the intense competition in the country’s skies means many pilots look for jobs elsewhere.
Thirty five have quit since 2020, and more are set to leave when their contracts expire.
The decline in number of Vietnamese pilots will place an even bigger burden on the airline since it will have to hire more foreign pilots, whose compensation is around VND2.5 billion a year each, including accommodation, insurance and others.
Assuming the airline loses 120-140 Vietnamese pilots every year, it would have to spend VND300-600 billion on hiring foreign replacements and face greater risk of flight cancelations.
It is therefore necessary to increased the salary budget to ensure stable operations, the ministry said.
If it is increased by VND300 billion annually, the current 41% salary gap would decrease to 30%, and if the hike is VND800 billion, the gap would shrink to 10%, it said.
But the increase must be tied to commitments from the airline that it would achieve its profit and revenue targets so that its losses do not bloat further, it added.