Hongkong Jet set on a hiring high
Hongkong Jet’s ambitious plan is to be a regional leader in business aviation – and be the best the industry can offer.
Set up in 2009, the young business jet airline has been expanding fast with the backing of its major shareholder, the Hainan Island-based HNA Group, a Fortune 500 company with a large stake in tourism-related industries.
Hongkong Jet is the group’s international arm for business aviation, covering private jet aircraft management, business jet charter, maintenance management and aircraft sales, focusing on safety and high standards of service. It has already launched chartered operations with an ultra long-haul Gulfstream G550 aircraft that can fly non-stop from Hong Kong to London or San Francisco, and is also operating a fleet of large-cabin business jets.
Growth will be based on the company’s long-term vision and good co-operation with its mainland counterpart.
“We are operationally and financially autonomous, entrepreneurial and keen to act on opportunities as the overseas arm of HNA for business aviation. We have also found a number of opportunities outside of Hong Kong. We are experiencing high growth and hiring lots of people, and tooling up for our MRO (Multi-Region Operation) capabilities,” says Hongkong Jet CEO Chris Buchholz.
The business jet airline expects to grow its size this year to about 85 people. However, the expansion also offers good opportunities for career development. “We like to promote from within. It is very important for team morale. A happy staff is the best way to get business and development,” Buchholz explains.
Positions to fill include licensed pilots, flight attendants, flight dispatchers, engineers and office employees such as accountants and sales and marketing staff.
“We want people with an international outlook, to retain and build further our international flavour. The operational language is English, but our staff are multicultural and are able to change the language of communication to what suits the customers. We are a very international team,” Buchholz says.
The job is different from working for a commercial airline with scheduled flights. Demand is unpredictable: employees have to be flexible and on call all the time. They must also have experience in dealing with VIPs and offering service to the standard of a five-star hotel.
The job is ideal for those who love to travel, because the flights cover a wide range of destinations. So far, demand mostly covers Asia. But with rising Chinese investment in North America and Europe, Buchholz expects growing demand for flights to these destinations.
With increasing traffic, the airline also seeks more flight dispatchers who can take requests on a 24/7 basis, do flight plans, get the flight permits, landing rights and arrange hotel accommodation for the crew. The minimum requirement is one-year stint for an entry-level position, and full flight dispatchers should have two to three years of experience.
Two months ago, Hongkong Jet was certified by the Civil Aviation Department to undertake scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance. It is also expecting to receive several additional maintenance approvals, which will allow it to service aircraft registered in other countries, and has set up an Aircraft-On-Ground GO-TEAM with a mission to return clients’ grounded aircraft to service in the shortest time possible.
With maintenance work increasing, Hongkong Jet is also hiring engineers.
“Every time we bring in a new type of aircraft, we send pilots and engineers to the best trainers to be trained on that particular aircraft to complement our team of highly experienced business jet engineers,” says Buchholz.
“Many private jets are more advanced than commercial aircraft, as they often use military innovations,” he adds. “Our in-house safety trainer is an aviator from Britain. He runs a very effective safety team. But external training is also good for team morale and to learn best practices.”
For sales and marketing positions, applicants should have a love of aviation, and experience in selling to high-net-worth individuals, such as stints in private banking and premium product sales.
“We are in this business because we love it. We have the best team ever assembled in order to provide the best service,” says Buchholz.