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Home > Salary > Why do captains earn such high salary?
Why do captains earn such high salary?
Professional Pilots - Salary
Friday, 12 September 2008 23:47
Hi Captain Lim,

I am sorry to ask this question that might be bothering to you, but why do the pilots, especially captains receive very high pay? I am aspiring to become a pilot for Malaysia Airlines and I need the answer to this question.

I am quite scared when I recently found out that pilots, especially captains in Malaysia Airlines can earn up to RM 30,000 per month. Now, that is quite a large sum of money for local Malaysians like me where the sum of my parent's salary doesn't even reach RM 5000 and I have always wanted to earn that much.

Does a pilot, especially a captain in Malaysia really earn that large salary?

Why do pilots receive high pay and what is the rationale behind the high pay?

What is the reason for the high pay? Is it that the job is too prolific or just because you are risking your life?

I hope I will receive an honest and just reply.

Thank you very much.


Satia Silan,
An aspiring pilot who will be joining Malaysia Airlines in few years time.
(I am 16 right now)

Hi Satia,

The answer to your question is found under a previous query in "Why are pilots being paid so exorbitantly?"

However, here is a little more to add to it.

The basic pay of a captain varies according to his seniority and to some, on airplane types. On top of that, he gets variable allowances and therefore his gross income is generally not constant monthly.

Let's make a comparison of the gross salary (including allowances) of a captain from a few selected global airlines below. They are estimates only. You can go to the Salary Page of the listed airlines in this site to view the exact details of more airplane types, seniority and miscellaneous allowances.

Airlines (Plane Types)


Average Gross Monthly Salary

British Airways (B747/B777)


RM 55,000.00 - 60,000.00

Cathay Pacific Airways (B747/B777)


RM 55,000.00 - 60,000.00

Emirates Airlines (A380/B747/B777)

Middle East

RM 45,000.00 - 55,000.00

Malaysia Airlines (B747/B777)


RM 30,000.00 - 35,000.00

Qantas (B747)


RM 55,000.00 - 60,000.00

Singapore Airlines (A380/B747/B777)


RM 50,000.00 - 55,000.00

Delta Airlines (B777)


RM 50,000.00 - 55,000.00

So as you can see, the salary of a captain in Malaysia Airlines is not that high after all.

I am not sure what you meant by "the job being too prolific or risky". But, a captain does shoulder a very high responsibility. As my doctor friend used to say, a surgeon's mistake can only cost the life of a patient whereas a pilot's error can have very gross consequences. This was seen from the captain's mistake in the Tenerife accident in 1977 when a KLM Boeing 747 crashed into another Pan Am Boeing 747 during the take off. In the crash, 583 lives were lost (see video below). (For the full video, go to Air Crash Investigation -"Worst Plane Crash" here).

Crash of the Century – Tenerife Disaster


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Comments (6)

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Indonesia Expats
Hello Capt

I understand Indonesian Airlines have made a request to the DGCA to allow the hiring of expat pilots. As of June 2009, do you know if such request has been granted? Can you tell us what is the status of hiring of expats in Indonesia?

Capt Antonio
Capt Antonio , 27 Jun, 2009
airlines , Low-rated comment [Show]
im a captain
its very enjoyable being a captainsmilies/smiley.gifsmilies/grin.gifsmilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/cool.gifsmilies/tongue.gif
captain arran kennedy , 04 Mar, 2012
Lowcost airline means lowcost staff with low salary?
Dear Captain Lim,

We as malaysian have been taught that working with Malaysia Airlines means WOW,as airlines pay higher salary than non-airliners. But now that Air Asia exist as a low-cost airline,is they earn "low-cost" too? How bout AirAsia captains? What is the average pay for Captain in AirAsia?
Confius passenger , 01 Jul, 2012
Hi,Capt. Lim
I am 15 but I always dreaming to be a pilot but When I could start learning on becoming a pilot.I mean that the aeronautical course is something that we do not learn in a high school..I hope that you can help me Capt.Lim.Thank you.
Afiq , 12 Feb, 2016
Can i join as an arline pilot of malaysia airline after secondary school but my secondary school is international
Dear captain.
I want to ask you about can i join malaysia airline straightly after my secondary school.My secondary school is international. I want to join after my secondary school but i dont know how. I dont want to study so long for pilot i want to just go. Can i join as an airline pilot when i am 16. If i can join how much is the salary for a new pilot of malaysia airline . Please if can recommended me for joining malaysia airline pilot . And give me all the advice like which subject should i take. Can pilot wear glasses. All fhe best.

cwswengsum , 06 Mar, 2016

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