Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taiwan and China Deepen Cooperation in the Aviation Sector

Flightglobal carried an interesting article today regarding another facet of cross-Strait relations. China's aviation administration is looking toward Taiwan to help fill pilot shortages on domestic Chinese airlines. Moving beyond the issue of direct flights between Chinese and Taiwanese cities, the aviation sector appears to be the latest area of cross-Strait cooperation:

China's Shenzhen Airlines to employ 25 Taiwanese pilots

By Leithen Francis

China's Shenzhen Airlines plans to receive 25 Taiwanese pilots as part of a Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) initiative to help China overcome its pilot shortage problem.

A Shenzhen Airlines spokeswoman in Shenzhen says the CAAC has allocated Shenzhen Airlines 25 Taiwanese pilots.

She says the CAAC is recruiting 80 Taiwanese pilots in total and allocating them to different airlines around China.

Another Shenzhen official, who is directly involved in pilot recruitment, confirms to ATI that the carrier is to receive 25 Taiwanese pilots allocated by the CAAC.

He says Shenzhen has about 77 aircraft - a mix of
Airbus A320s, Boeing 737s and Embraer 190s - and needs more pilots because it has aircraft on order. CAAC officials in Beijing were unavailable for comment today.

China has recruited Taiwanese pilots before. In late 2005 Sichuan Airlines became the first carrier in China to recruit pilots from Taiwan. Taiwanese pilots are popular because of their Chinese language skills.

Besides lending of pilots, Taiwan's state-owned AIDC is apparently looking to play a role in the multi-billion dollar China's jumbo jet program (see here for an overview published by the Project 2049 Institute). It's worth recalling a famous quote from Madame Chiang Kai-shek, who loved aviation:

Of all the inventions that have helped to unify China perhaps the airplane is the most outstanding. Its ability to annihilate distance has been in direct proportion to its achievements in assisting to annihilate suspicion and misunderstanding among provincial officials far removed from one another or from the officials at the seat of government.

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