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Foreign pilots to be admitted to Russia

December 06, 2013, 12:29 UTC+3 World Service) ¶ 6/12 Tass ¶ MOSCOW
Russian government has approved a bill allowing Russian companies to hire foreign pilots
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MOSCOW, December 06. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian government has approved a bill allowing Russian companies to hire foreign pilots, Minister of the Open Government Mikhail Abyzov said. “The law is temporary in nature, until 2019,” he added. According to him, the bill provides for the training of aircraft commanders in the first place.

The document says that 200 foreigners will be admitted to piloting Russian planes, although an explanatory note to the amendments to the law specifies the need of annual “replenishment of the flight staff by 1,100-1,500 people,” the Vedomosti newspaper writes. There is a deficit of experts that might result in the lowering of the flying pilots’ skills, the document says. “Moreover, it is difficult for air carriers to meet the growing air transportation demand of the population and economy,” according to materials prepared for a government meeting.

A Vedomosti source in an airline says that during the development of the bill Russia’s leading air carrier Aeroflot proposed to give a quota of 800 people, however, the Transport Ministry decided to cut it and set a “certain trial period and see how the things would be going.”

An Aeroflot representative says that the air carrier currently needs 134 aircraft commanders and when the quota is opened it intends to replenish its personnel by hiring pilots from Europe (Germany and France), as well as countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine). A source of Vedomosti close to Aeroflot specifies that the company has good relations with the pilot schools of Germany’s Lufthansa and France’s Air France.

Director General of Infomost Boris Rybak, quoted by the newspaper, emphasizes that announced quota is 10 times lower than the demand. “Foreign pilots fly even in North Korea,” Rybak says. According to him, Russia has a low income tax and high salaries for aircraft commanders and a standard benefit package for pilots — it will make the work with Russian companies attractive. The average salary of pilots in Russia is about 150,000 - 300,000 rubles per month, says the explanatory note to the bill. For example, Aeroflot, announcing in 2011 the enlistment of pilots for the regional Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ) plane, guaranteed salaries of 340,000 rubles per month to aircraft commanders, and 270,000 rubles to the second pilots. In Europe, an average salary of a commander of the Boeing 737 NG plane is about $7000-8000 (230,000-260,000 rubles).

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