2 November 2012
THE 1,714 unemployed pilots in the country are hoping to land jobs at Malaysia’s newest low cost airline, Malindo Air.
It may be a long shot but still a ray of hope for them.
For a long time now, many who had spent an average of RM250,000 to get their flying licence have not been able to land a job to pilot planes in the country because there are just too few pilot jobs versus the number of candidates who obtained their commercial plane licence.
They also are not able to market themselves globally because they have clocked too few hours in training to be considered by foreign airlines.
So, when Malindo advertised for several jobs this week, over 3,000 waited for hours for a chance to meet the interviewers. This is despite stuffy conditions and lack of chairs because of overwhelming response. Among them were 600 pilots.
The walk-in interview began yesterday and will last till Saturday and Malindo plans to hire pilots, cabin crew, engineering and support staff to begin operations in mid-March.
For those who get the job, it will be a chance of a lifetime to finally fly a plane.
Malindo is a joint venture between Malaysia’s Nadi Sdn Bhd and Indonesia’s largest privately-owned airline Lion Air. Lion Air is owned by Kusnan and Rusdi Kirana, the two brothers whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at US$580mil as at 2010. Lion Air controls 50% of the domestic Indonesian market.
Nadi is controlled by low-key businessman Tan Sri Ahmad Johan and Nadi has 51% equity stake in Malindo while PT Lion Grup holds the remaining 49%.
Malindo will operate domestic operations first, beginning with flights from KLIA to either Sabah or Sarawak. It will use the B737-900ER aircraft. It will take delivery of two aircraft each in March to May.
By mid-year it will have six aircraft and by end-2013, it will have 12. In 10 years, it plans to have 100 aircraft and employ 5,000 people in five years.
Rusdi is confident his business model for Malindo will work because it has worked for Lion Air, which has 600 daily flights and carries 100,000 passengers in Indonesia. Malindo will be the international arm for Lion Air, which will feed traffic to Malindo.
Feeder traffic is important in a competitive market place as no airline wants to fly half-filled aircraft at a time when jet fuel prices are rising.
He may be confident but his sceptics are quick to point out that he is in for a lot of competition and it would be a rough ride. AirAsia, for one, is not going to let them have it easy especially on its home turf.
But more importantly, Malindo can hire a large number of the unemployed pilots in the country.
Six hundred is just the interim figure and it could even hire up to 1,000, according to Malindo CEO Chandran Ramamuthy. He is so confident that between Malindo and Lion Air, there will be enough capacity to cater for up to 1,000 pilots. He says Lion Air is hiring pilots from Europe and since Malaysia has a pool of talent, why not source it from Malaysia.
Chandran is a Malaysian and is one of the most trusted lieutenants of Rusdi.
If you analyse their modus operandi, they are being smart in hiring those who already have a licence as Malindo or Lion does not have to incur the cost of putting freshies through pilot school and bonding them for years. Malindo and Lion will help licenced pilots get bank loans to pay for the aircraft type rating training and offer them jobs at the airline.
It is a win win for both, though some may disagree. However, for the longer term they will look into training of cadets too, says Chandran.
By doing so, they are helping to solve the problem of surplus pilots in the country which was also highlighted by Singaporean newspapers last week.
Today is day two of Malindo’s walk-in interview and tomorrow is the last day. The beeline will continue and according to Chandran, “we have room to accommodate more pilots.”
Although Malindo and Lion Air have big plans to hire more pilots they must remember one thing they have to keep their promises and not break the hearts of the unemployed pilots.
3,000 hopefuls turn up for walk-in interviews
Over 3,000 hopefuls turned up on the first day of Malindo Air’s walk-in interviews with the majority seeking jobs as pilots.
Some arrived at the airline’s office at KLIA here as early as 8am and were still waiting to be interviewed after lunch.
One of the rookie pilots hoping to land a job was Nursharmin Mohd Nazri, 22.
She had obtained her Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) in June last year. “I have been waiting here since 8am. Vacancies are very limited for fresh graduates and there are so many people here.”
The Star had reported that over 1,000 newly qualified pilots had been jobless for up to three years.
Lydia Adora Noor, 25, is looking to get back into the industry after quitting her flight attendant job to look after her mother. “I miss flying,” said Lydia, from Kota Kinabalu.
Malindo Air is a new low-cost carrier that is expected to operate out of klia2 and start plying Indonesia-Malaysia routes from May next year. The airline’s walk-in interviews will continue until Saturday.