After insisting on the legality of its refusal to accept pilot resignations, the head of Vietnam Airlines announced they would incrementally increase according to a plan that went into place in 2008.
“We [refused to accept their resignations] for the sake of aviation safety and security,” said Pham Ngoc Minh, the airline's director, at a press conference held in Hanoi on Monday. "As such, this was not a violation of the Labor Code."
He said the high volume of highly trained employees who submitted their resignations was an “especially unusual phenomenon” that threatened the nation’s economic security.
“A group of engineers and mechanics asked to resign in early 2014; then came the pilots.”
Minh said that up to 117 pilots asked for days off between December 30, 2014 and January 4, 2015 citing health reasons.
“After that, 30 of them filed requests to resign -- 90 percent of them were Airbus pilots," Minh said. "We didn't get a single resignation from our Boeing or ATR 72 crews.”
According to Vietnam Airlines, the company has followed a plan to increase its salaries for highly trained employees since 2008 when they ratified a plan to raise salaries to roughly 75-80 percent of their peers' in the region.
In 2008, monthly pilot salaries doubled and later rose to VND132 million (US$6,197) for Boeing 777 and Airbus 330 pilots.
Last September, Vietnam Airlines' Airbus 321 pilots began making VND115 million.
Under the plan, the company will increase monthly pilot salaries to VND158.8-177 million in July 2015.
Minh acknowledged that Vietnam Airlines pilots don't earn much compared to their peers in the region.
“The salaries we pay our local pilots are equivalent to about 75-80 percent of foreign pilots hired by Vietnam Airlines and we will adjust further to a reasonable rate,” he said.
Minh rejected rumors that other airlines have attracted the firm’s pilots with higher salaries.
Meanwhile, he admitted that the airline's plans to offer its pilots incremental salary bumps doesn't include other employees, including flight attendants who make VND19 million a month and other workers who are paid VND10 million a month.
Currently, salaries represent eight percent of the firm’s total expenditures.
As such, he said, it would be difficult to raise salaries beyond the plan's trajectory.
“Pilots filing for resignation should keep what in mind what the company has spent to train them,” he said.