The introduction of low-fare airlines operating out of Hong Kong is opening a new chapter in the local travel industry.
For thrifty travellers, low fare flights to distant destinations like London are finally accessible. For long-serving airlines that have made Hong Kong one of Asia's leading aviation hubs, this means the market has become even more competitive. However, for young people intending to take up careers in the aviation industry, still more job opportunities are opening up.
Hong Kong's first low-fare, long-haul operator, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines (Oasis) launched budget services to London last October. Other services to Berlin, Milan, San Francisco and Chicago are planned for the near future.
To cope with this growth plan, Oasis requires a total of 350 cabin crew members this year. "With a new batch of 20 flight attendants already under training, we have about 200 cabin crew at present," says Kristy Rigg, HR manager of Oasis. Currently, Oasis operates two Boeing 747-400s serving on the London route but three more are on the way to extend the airline's network. "Correspondingly, we must take on more crew members to provide passengers with quality in-flight services," Ms Rigg says.
Aspiring candidates should speak English and either Cantonese or Mandarin. Unlike major Asian airlines, Oasis does not have a set retirement age for its cabin crew. "Some companies retire their cabin attendants who have reached the age of 45. We don't have such policies," says Ms Rigg. "We believe it is more a matter of mindset rather than age. We are looking for cabin attendants who are pleasant, friendly and most importantly, willing to go the extra mile."
She further points out, today's newcomers have become increasingly experienced in providing in-flight service, eventually reaching the stage where their seniority and dedication is taken into account when internal promotions are being considered.
Compared with other longer established airlines where crew members stay at the same rank for 10 years, Oasis offers a fast track for flight attendants to advance to pursers, and subsequently chief pursers. For crew members with a strong educational background, there will be many future openings for office jobs, too. "As a young and fast growing company, we will offer some great opportunities for those with the right attitude and commitment," Ms Rigg says.
Besides a structured career path, flight crew can also enjoy working in a welcoming environment. "We deliberately include our in-flight training facility in our new head office so that during the six-week induction course, cabin crew trainees will meet colleagues from other departments," Ms Rigg explains. Moreover, there is a cosy crew area with beverage provisions and Internet access where crew members can relax after a flight. "We are well aware that keeping in touch with relatives and friends is important for aircrew who work remotely, so all cabin crew members are provided with a company web access," she adds. "We are a young airline and willing to listen to others' views. Crew members are always invited to meet the management, including the chairman and CEO, to discuss what improvements we can provide."
Oasis stresses it is not a budget airline but one that offers good value. "The company is dedicated to bringing value to the tickets our customers purchase," says Ms Rigg. "We never compromise on safety, security and service standards." For example, complimentary meals are provided in both business and economy classes on all flights. Like other airlines, a wide range of special meals can be arranged upon passengers' requests. They also enjoy non-stop audio and video in-flight entertainment in comfortable seats.
Ms Rigg explains that Oasis tailors various services to suit the needs of different people. In particular, business class passengers enjoy the same privileges as those provided by costlier airlines. These include dedicated check-in areas and sleeper seats. "In response to the growing market demand from such sectors as SMEs, we offer an affordable premium class that combines comfort and safety with unprecedented value," she adds.