Hah: Qatar Airways Is Trying To Poach Airberlin Pilots

Filed Under: Airberlin, Qatar

A few days ago airberlin filed for insolvency, after Etihad withdrew financial support for the airline. The German government is giving the airline an emergency loan that’s expected to allow them to continue operations for the next few months, though it’s anyone’s guess what happens after that.

While the airline has generally been headed in the right direction by leasing some of their planes to Lufthansa, they have a long way to go. It’s anyone’s guess what happens to the airline in a few months, whether they find new investors, etc. Whatever happens, I think it’s extremely likely that airberlin will be parking planes, and presumably laying off a lot more staff.

It looks like Qatar Airways is taking advantage of that, or trying to help airberlin pilots find new opportunities, depending on how you look at it. Per Qatar Airways’ Facebook page, the airline is holding a two day pilot recruiting event in Berlin next week:

Qatar Airways will be conducting a recruitment event in Berlin. We are looking for Captains and First Officers across our young fleet.

Are you an experienced pilot and interested in hearing more? Details are below.

Date: 23rd & 24th August, 2017
Two sessions per day: 09:00am & 12:00pm.
Venue: Maritim Hotel Berlin, Stauffenbergstraße 26,
10785 Berlin
Notes: Flight Deck Crew only. No appointment necessary.

There’s a worldwide pilot shortage right now, and the Gulf carriers in particular are having a hard time retaining pilots. Even though their pay is good (and it’s largely tax free), there are lots of opportunities for pilots right now, and many would prefer not to live in the Middle East. However, I imagine a good number of people from airberlin would be willing to take an opportunity like this, especially as Qatar Airways will potentially hire directly into the captain position.

I guess we’ll see if they hold a recruitment event in Dusseldorf as well, which is airberlin’s other hub.

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

  1. The use of the word poach seems a little excessive Ben.

    The definition of poach is “to persuade someone to leave a group or organization and become a member of another, especially by using secret or dishonest methods.”

    This is not dishonest or secretive on Qatar’s part. Air Berlin is a failing airline where many employees will most likely be out of work soon.

  2. Well this is normal in many industries when there is merger or insolvency or pretty much any major change (threat) coming. Most likely pilots of the Air Berlin are also receiving calls. As this is the point where many Air Berlin pilots must think about other options in case they loose their jobs. I’ve experienced few mergers in IT industry and in both cases when information has gone public my phone have started ringing next day if I would like to come and talk about job opportunities at a company.

  3. Why the ‘hah’? Do you think this is bad? But your article suggest otherwise? Even pilot got a family to feed….

  4. None of the ME3 pay that well. That is a reputation left over from when the US airlines were in free fall after 9/11. Things have changed dramatically over the last few years. My friend is a senior 777 captain at Emirates and he make about half what I do as a US A320 captain. I think the ME3 will have a very hard time finding and retaining pilots in the next few years between the US carriers who are facing a huge number of retirements, and the Asian carriers with very large pay contracts that pay almost 3 times what ME carriers offer. The EM3 will have to see there pilot costs rise dramatically in the near future if they are to support the growth they have planned.

  5. @Rob
    Not being paid highly, but at least being paid. Surely the choice between qatar and air berlin in the middle of insolvency is not a great choice. Then again, as a pilot of air berlin, do you have time to go to US to attend an interview?

  6. @Rob, What a remarkably idiotic comment you just made. Please do tell me does your US airline also pay for your entire housing like EK does? Also remind me is your salary also tax free? Oh yeah that’s right…

  7. @Anon, I fully agree……The salaries are comparable with top tier carriers world wide. Especially when we take the tax-free salary, good housing, insurance, generous leave and also education allowance for the kids into account, then it almost is better than salaries in the West!

  8. Poaching? There’s no poaching. The days of showing your allegiance to an employer are long-gone. You’re just a number. Don’t expect or plan on the “gold watch”. Anyway, the airlines want us all flying in drones with no pilots. Take the money and run!

  9. @Anon @JPT. It is interesting that you know more about Rob’s salary than he does, especially since that is single most common topic of conversation between pilots. As a point of fact, the ME3 carriers do not compete well with US carriers in terms of salary. US citizens are still taxed at EK as well as QR, so -1 for that point. The EK housing, when it is available, is miniscule by US standards and does not compensate for the lower salary. Nor does it improve with seniority, whereas Rob can buy or rent a nicer McMansion, farm, penthouse suite, or whatever he wants, if he so choses as he gets paid more at home. Also, the EK compounds are mostly full and the housing stipend will only get you a broom closet in Dubai; -2. School, while terrible in the US, is free, so pretty much a wash. Ultimately it is not attractive enough to lure pilots there from the US, which is why they are currently resigned to hiring from Eastern Europe, South Africa, and the sub-continent. With that being said, this would represent a huge win for Qatar pilot recruiting, probably a pretty decent deal for Direct Entry Captains, and a raw deal for Qatar’s foreign senior FOs.

  10. As @PP Said so well, the so-called free house EK pilots get is just free rent. The pilot is not accumulating an asset and better be putting money away for when they go home/retire. Also you might want to check you tax laws, US citizens are still taxed at the full tax rate on any thing over (I think the number is) 86k. Finally the so-called education allowance is about half the cost of the good schools in Dubai.

    @james I totally agree, any port in a storm.

    I was just saying would you rather make 120k as a senior 777/380 captain or 350k as a 777 senior delta/AA/UAL captain or 350k doing contact work for Chinese carriers. Fewer qualified pilots are going to be going to the ME unless they start to pay a lot more.

  11. @pointpilot
    And why would you think any airlines outside US would like to attract pilots from US? They’re accostumed to many priviliges and have so many demands compared to pilots from other nationality with similiar skill and experience. Ots counter productive to an airline to specifically hunting US pilots.

  12. Ryanair did a similar stunt in Doha, Qatar in early June, when the other Gulf states imposed the ban on Qatar and Qatar Airways.

    Hasta la Vista – I will be back – Terminator aka Akbar Al Baker

  13. @James “And why would you think any airlines outside US would like to attract pilots from US?”

    I didn’t say that. I was merely responding to Rob’s point regarding remuneration package comparison between US carriers and the ME3. It is a topic divergence anyway as the article was about German pilots and a Qatari carrier.

    But since you brought it up, the UAE and Qatar have a huge demand for pilots relative to the size of their population which necessitates hiring foreigners. All normal businesses perform cost benefit analyses when considering what level of quality of employees, components, supplies, etc. that they are willing to pay for. Maybe hiring less than the best makes sense to the CFO if the cost is right. One could make the argument however, that ME3 carriers are not Normal Businesses. Either way, the US has the largest pool of the best trained, most experienced pilots. Cue hysterics!…But consider this; you have to get your training somewhere. The US military is the gold standard for flight training because of the resources at their disposal. That is why countries like Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and many others send student pilots to US military flight training. Then, after initial flight training US military pilots will continue to get more hours of actual stick and rudder flying per year than military pilots of any other country that I am aware of.

    For those who don’t go the military route, no country is more accommodating to General Aviation than the US. This leads to people from all over the world coming to the US to earn their various certifications. Invariably, the US pilots that rise through the ranks of civil aviation gain many of their flight hours as instructors because of the large demand foreign and US students create. Here they will learn significantly more than the minimum requisite material as they anticipate and correct infinite iterations of student pilot mistakes and poorly executed maneuvers. When the time comes and you need the pilots of your airline, or the airplane you happen to be sitting on, to perform more demanding tasks, do you want someone who has 2900 hours in the jump seat as a second officer and 100 hours of actual aircraft piloting many years ago, or would you rather have someone with a wealth of stick and rudder experience and aviation insight gained over a lengthy pre-commercial airline career?

    English is the international language of aviation. There are probably many foreign pilots around the world, and even readers on this blog, that speak more technically correct English than the average US pilot. But when the stress level rises in a challenging situation or colloquialisms come out, having a native English speaker (even an American) is going to give a better chance of quickly and accurately evaluating that information.

    Americans are brash and opinionated. This post could be an example of that. But while a culture of deference to age, rank, or strangers might be appealing in some sectors, aviation is not one of those. That is why many airlines actively seek out US pilots to instill and reinforce a Crew Resource Management culture that may be at odds with certain societal norms.

    Does this mean that pilots from other countries aren’t good? Of course not. Are there excellent pilots from South Africa, Eastern Europe, the Sub-continent, and many other unmentioned countries? Absolutely.

    Arguably, I am biased, but if your business model requires a large number of pilots and you want the best, you should look to the US. That is why I think all airlines would like to attract pilots from the US. Even if it costs a little bit more. Aren’t those 489 A-380 passengers worth it?

  14. The difference is lots of people are wanting to work in GCC countries, especially UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain. Nobody wants to work in China. The GCC can get away with “lowballing” Why else does China need to pay $350k? If China has to pay $350K for a 1$20K job, what does that tell you about living in China? And besides, Rob living in Asia? Hahaha, most amusing!
    And why would a true, red-blooded patriotic American ever work in another country? Why, that is TREASON!! Do your patriotic duty and never leave the USA!

  15. @pointpilot
    Surely any bussines wants the best resources. However, any bussines also has budgets and maintenance.

    Your arguments have merits. But in the eyes of the employer, is it really the best choice? Getting one or two maybe good. Getting a hundred?

  16. Rob – you are so completely misinformed of the EK salary and benefits. The fact you are here shouting so loudly about it says everything. Keep telling yourself how bad it is, it makes no difference to reality.

    You claim a senior EK captain only makes 120k usd a year, when in reality it’s 16k usd a month, or 192k usd a year…. that’s before housing allowance btw for a senior line captain. Even a new starter gets 160k usd a year. How much did you make in your first year buddy?

    Of course this is all tax free you understand. No income tax, no state tax, no housing tax, no sales tax.

    Regarding housing allowance, I think you’ll find the 190k aed a year / 52k usd gets you more than a broom closet in rent, as you boldly claim, and further you are wrong, you can use that money to buy a house, an accumulating asset.

    Free private schooling for kids is also another significant benefit. The allowance for 3 kids is 270k aed a year, or 73k usd. No the schools are not double this price… is that from the same line of enquiry that claimed 52k rent gets you a broom closet?

    Every ME airline pays similarly. In case you switch off at this point, let’s do the maths for you: 160 + 52 + 73 = 285k usd tax free.

    So before you repeatedly and randomly boast here, off topic, about how much you make at a US airline, perhaps you’d like to work out how much you’d need to earn in the US *before* any tax, to pay for all these benefits. And finally, how many years is required to get to your pay scale used to compare, versus a ME carrier? Is that why every US pilot is a geriatric?

    But as I said, don’t let reality hit you on the way out. You’re amazing. Your job is amazing. Let’s makes America great again!


  17. The big issue for US citizens is that their government taxes them wherever they earn money. In pretty much any other country, if you work abroad your government assumes you pay whatever tax liability there is in that country, and then you pay nothing else – as we say, “no double taxation”. So for, say, a UK pilot (and most European pilots), the ME countries are like financial paradise – big salaries and no income taxes. For a US pilot, the salaries may be the same size but Uncle Sam is going to want a big cut out of that.

    The US is a strange country in many ways. I guess that’s why we have American Exceptionalism.

  18. @PointPilot

    The reason many of those European countries send pilots to train in the US is because they either lack the space to train in their home countries or their military is simply so small that running their own training ops would be not cost effective.

    Not sure about the Saudi claim, the do have a lot of BAE Hawk and Pilatus trainers. And the UAE also have a large number of Pilatus trainers plus some Italian jet trainers. Doubt they would have those bird if they didn’t run their own flight training

    Are you thinking about conversion training to F-15/16 when it comes to the Arab states?

    When it comes to civilian flight training a big reason is that the weather in say California or Florida is in general better than in Europe, which is important for PPL training done under visual flight rules. Good luck doing that during a rainy English summer, your training would end up taking a lot longer waiting for the weather to clear up.

    If @BobbyT is correct about the 190k aed a year that will definitely get you more than q broom closet, since I don’t work in the aviation industry I have never bothered to see what EK offers so he could be wrong of course.

  19. @PointPilot

    Quite frankly the more I dig into your claims the more ridiculous they seem.

    The Singapore Air Force does basic flight training in Australia on the Pilatus PC-21 followed by M-346 jet training in France.

    Convention training to the F-16 and F-15 is done in the US.

    And the Japanese seems to have over 200 trainers on their own

    Quite frankly your gold standard of training seems to consists of Northern European countries that either have too small armed forces to train at home or simply not enough room, or countries that send pilots with probably 300+ Hours to do conversion training on US built front line fighter jets.

    Quite frankly training on how to use a front line fighter is probably part of the sales package when a fighter is sold in most cases. Buy an F-15 or F-16, go train in the US. Buy an Saab Gripen, go train in Sweden.

  20. @No Name,

    Your first point is accurate. As I stated, the US military is fortunate to have many resources available. This starts with airspace and funding, then continues with airports, aircraft, simulators, maintenance, et al. While weather, in its own right might not be a resource, having enough landmass so that you can train where the weather is good is. For US military pilots, access to these resources doesn’t stop when they graduate from pilot training, meaning years of the best training opportunities not constrained by external factors.

    Regarding the Saudi training question, the following statement was from August 16th. “Today, #Laughlin hosted Royal Saudi Air Force Maj. Gen. Khalid Mohammed Al Saqally, who traveled from Saudi Arabia to visit base leadership and Saudi Arabia’s future pilots!”

    They do also have a BAE contract to train in Kingdom as you pointed out. Many countries have some organic training capacity. It is generally the best, or best connected, students who are selected for training in the US. Is that because it is inferior?

    Again, you are correct about the weather being a significant factor in the civil aviation equation. But you failed to point out that it is also prohibitively expensive in Europe and many other parts of the world. That opens up many more opportunities to US pilots to build their experience with good continuity of effort, meaning less fits and starts or degradation of skills along the way.

    @Bobby T is partially correct about the housing allowance amount for a Capt. His maths go awry when he adds Capt. housing allowance to FO salary with FO housing allowance already incorporated. Per the EK recruiting website:

    FO total monthly salary: 44,450 AED tax-free (Accommodation allowance included)
    Capt total monthly salary: 58,770 AED tax-free (Accommodation allowance included)

    If they do have room on the compound your salary will decrease by $17k-19K per annum.

    As for education, the value is highly subjective. It is free in the US, so you have to value the experience of an international school and its curriculum in order to count this as a positive. Even then the benefit is only maximized if you have three children.

    If you don’t live on the compounds and you get the maximum allowance, you are likely looking at a flat between 1400-2000 square feet. Admittedly, that is bigger than you could find a few years ago thanks to the steadily dropping rental prices portending the inevitable Dubai housing bubble burst (accumulating asset opportunity). But also, keep in mind that most American families are not accustomed to living in dense urban areas as many Europeans are, thus moving into something even as small as a 2000 square foot flat would be a significant shock.

    As long as we are on this train of thought, in the US and with many overseas carriers you can commute to work. This allows employees to live wherever they want. That isn’t possible with the ME3 at the moment. If it was, it might change the calculus for some US pilots. Especially those who aren’t sure about committing to moving their family to Dubai indefinitely.

    @No Name, thanks for the logical discussion. @BobbyT, I like that you ended on such a positive note. You’re amazing too…at maths! JK. Good night.

  21. This is easy to resolve, what are the actual salary figures for the major global carriers? Why not just list em?

  22. OSM Aviation, the recruitment company working with Norwegian, is actually having a “roadshow” in Berlin on August 24th as well.

  23. This is not even a debate.
    US pilots are THE standard. The US military produces the finest pilots in the world, and everyone knows that. If you argue with that assertion, you are wrong.

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