British Airways has announced it plans to double the number of Chinese cabin crew it employs specifically for flights between the United Kingdom and China. The ramping up in recruitment follows a strong rebound for premium leisure travel between the two countries since pandemic-linked travel restrictions were lifted in 2023.
The airline currently has 50 China-based cabin crew on its books and intends to add a further 50 local-language staff. The new additions will be equally split between the carrier’s crew bases in Shanghai (PVG) and Beijing PEK).
British Airways aims to have the recruitment drive completed by the start of festivities linked to the Chinese Lunar New Year in mid-February 2024. With the new recruits fully onboarded, China will become British Airways’ second-largest international cabin crew base after India, according to a company spokesperson.
British Airways originally announced its recruitment drive in China in October 2023 and has reportedly received “thousands of applicants”, according to Calum Laming, the airline’s Chief Customer Officer, speaking to Bloomberg.
“This shows our commitment especially because we are operating 11 flights a week into mainland China. Significantly, a proportion of the cabin crew operating the flights will be China-based,” he said.
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British Airways resumed flights from London to Shanghai in April 2023 and to Beijing in June 2023. The airline now flies daily to Shanghai and four times a week to Beijing. However, any possible expansion of routes or increase of frequencies will be subject to aircraft availability, which is said to be causing a real issue for the airline, according to internal sources.
The move to recruit further Chinese-based staff is also a reflection of the strong demand for premium leisure travel post-pandemic, according to Laming.
“We’ve seen very strong demand, particularly in premium leisure, while we have other business travel recovering more slowly. We had an incredibly strong summer 2023, particularly from premium leisure, and also a strong festive season of Christmas and New Year. We’re hoping for a strong Chinese New Year season too,” Laming added.
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