The aviation industry in Vietnam has seen a significant gap in salaries between local and foreign pilots.
Vietnam Airlines, for instance, paid an average monthly salary of VND85 million ($3,620) to its 829 Vietnamese pilots, which is 41% lower than the VND145 million received by its 152 foreign pilots, who are hired through a third-party agency and not directly on the airline’s payroll.
This wage discrepancy has reportedly caused many Vietnamese pilots to quit, with 35 leaving since 2020. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs has highlighted the problem, indicating that the airline’s inability to offer higher salaries for local pilots, combined with the intense competition in Vietnam’s aviation industry, has led to this issue.
The report suggests that the airline plans to increase its payroll by 2025, which would raise the average salary of Vietnamese pilots by 59% to VND134.8 million. However, this figure remains significantly lower than the 93% increase that foreign pilots would receive, taking their salary to VND279.2 million. As a result, the wage gap between the two groups of pilots would increase to 52%.
The Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs has urged Vietnam Airlines to increase its salary budget to ensure stable operations. The airline will have to spend VND2.5 billion per year on each foreign pilot it hires, including accommodation and insurance, which will add up significantly if 120-140 Vietnamese pilots quit each year.
The report suggests that if Vietnam Airlines increases its salary budget by VND300 billion annually, the current 41% wage gap would decrease to 30%, and if the increase is VND800 billion, the gap would shrink to 10%.
However, any salary hike must be tied to the airline’s commitments to achieving its profit and revenue targets, as its losses cannot bloat further, according to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs.