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May 17, 2011

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10 pilots each to pay airline 2.1m yuan to quit

TEN pilots have reached an agreement to each pay their employer 2.1 million yuan (US$323,077) in compensation for resigning.

The state-owned airline, which was not identified, had asked for 10 million yuan in compensation due to the high amount it had spent training pilots and for using its resources.

However, agreement was reached under the mediation of the Changning District People's Court.

Judges said such cases reflect competition between state-owned and private airlines, which attract pilots by offering higher incomes.

The court should work to balance the interests of both pilots and airlines, they said.

A pilot, surnamed Wang, became a captain with a state-owned airline in 2009, while in his early 30s. A private airline then asked him to join, promising a higher salary and promotion.

Wang, attracted by the good terms of employment, asked to resign.

But his employer not only refused to deal with the quitting procedures but also stopped all his work.

After months of deadlock, each side sued the other in court.

Wang said it was legal and reasonable for him to ask to resign because he wasn't involved in any commercial secrets.

But his employer said Wang, as a special professional, was different from standard employees. It cost the airline a substantial amount to train a captain, so he couldn't resign easily.

If Wang insisted on quitting, he should compensate 2.1 million yuan for training fees and 7.55 million yuan for using the company's resources, such as its aircraft, the airline argued.

The court accepted nine other similar cases involving the same airline recently and decided to handle the lawsuits together.

"Economic interest is the core reason for such disputes," said Liu Chunquan, a local lawyer who has dealt with a number of lawsuits between pilots and airlines.

"It costs too much time and money to bring through their own pilots, so newly opened private airlines entice experienced pilots from other airlines with higher salaries," said Liu.

Under the judges' mediation, the airline agreed to give up the compensation for using the company's resources because pilots also worked when they flew the aircraft.


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