Dear Captain Lim,
I've got a UK CAA ATPL from Oxford Aviation Training and am just about to embark on my aviation career. I am in the fortunate position where I can choose between two companies to work for. I have been offered a place on the cadet program for SIA but will probably do an abridged course given my qualifications. I*ve also been offered a job as an FO at Ryanair in the UK on the Boeing 737-800 but I have to pay for my type rating, therefore no training bond.
As I am a Hong Kong resident, I would like to one day return to HK and fly for, say CX or KA, however, if I was able to progress well in SIA, then I would stick with them.
The biggest reason for not joining SIA is the low pay. I don*t mind giving up my UK citizenship to become a Singaporean but I need to know whether the financial gain is worth it. Also, the 7-year bond is very expensive to buy out if I am not happy.
My question to you is, based on the starting salary on SGD 4485 a month + benefits, will I be living a very humble lifestyle until my bond expires? I've heard SQ FO's are finding it quite difficult with their current salaries. Could you please shed some light on this matter?
If you are looking for a career that put you near the top league of flying - Singapore Airlines is the place to go for. No doubt the pay is low at the bottom initially, you would have the chance of flying some the best machines in the world!
Getting a rating on any of these planes - Boeing 777-300ER, Airbus A340, Boeing 747-400 (Airbus A380 - much later), you would be much sought after at the end of your 7-year bond, assuming you intend to leave. As a FO on the Boeing 737-800, you may get a better pay in UK now, but your route to a proper airline (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, etc) may be quite an uphill task.
Yes, the starting pay in SQ is low and it may not give you the level of lifestyle that you are looking for if you were comparing it to places like UK or Hong Kong. I know of many aspiring pilots who do not mind slogging for lower pay but know that the future is brighter in the end. Unless you are offered a job with Cathay Pacific (since you are also a Hong Kong resident) that would be a different story as CX is one of the better airlines in the Far East where pay is concerned.
Okay, take your pick now! I wish you all the best!