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March 19, 2013

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Airline sues pilot to repay 1.69m yuan for training

A SUBSIDIARY of locally based China Eastern Airlines is demanding 1.69 million yuan (US$271,921) from a helicopter pilot trainee who refused to work for the airline after completing his flight training.

The company, Eastern General Aviation Corp Co, said it paid 1.3 million yuan to train the pilot, Wang Hui, to get pilot licenses for helicopters, but Wang refused to sign a labor contract as agreed in an earlier training contract, the Huangpu District People's Court heard yesterday.

Wang, a Gansu Province native in his 20s, appeared in the courtroom yesterday. He said he didn't refuse to sign but just needed more time to think about whether to take the job.

"My mom was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. I took her to Beijing to see the doctors when the contract was mailed to my home in Gansu," Wang said. "I asked the company to give me more time so that I could go back to my home and read the terms. But they chose to file a lawsuit to press me to sign the contract."

Wang said he was unsatisfied with the salary offered, which was a monthly base salary of 5,000 yuan and allowances for every flight hour.

"The salary is far below the average standard in the flight industry," Wang said. He tried to negotiate a higher salary since his mother's daily medical bills are more than 6,000 yuan.

The company, however, said he knew what his salary would be, and in any case, Wang should work for it for at least 15 years or sign an open-ended contract, according to the training contract Wang signed before taking the flight training.

Wang signed the training contract with the company in May 2011 and started helicopter training in September 2011. He took tests for private and commercial pilot licenses in January and July 2012, respectively, and earned both licenses, the court heard.

According to the training contract, Wang should return the entire flight training fee of 1.3 million yuan and pay up to 1.5 times that amount as compensation to the company if he violated the contract.

The judge and the airline agreed to give Chen another 30 days. The airline was ordered to prove the training was actually worth 1.3 million yuan.


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