Cathay Pacific Airways prepares pilot base closures, leaving hundreds of jobs at risk

posted on 22nd April 2021 by Eddie Saunders
Cathay Pacific Airways prepares pilot base closures, leaving hundreds of jobs at risk


Cathay Pacific Airways will close its Canadian pilot base, and is considering doing the same to ones in Australia and New Zealand, putting hundreds of jobs at risk, the Post has learned.

The moves come as part of a review of the airline’s overseas cockpit crew operations, which will also see it re-evaluate its European and United States pilot bases later this year, according to a memo sent to staff on Thursday.

The memo indicated the airline would start to transfer pilots to Hong Kong on a voluntary basis.

However, if the carrier were to transfer overseas pilots to Hong Kong, it could prove controversial.

Existing expatriate cockpit crew in the city are only receiving short-term work visa approvals, and there is a large pool of unemployed local pilots following the shutdown of Cathay Dragon last year. Hong Kong authorities could block the move.

Furloughed Europe- and US-based pilots have been receiving half of their salary, while their Canadian colleagues were getting two-thirds.

Since April 1, however, Cathay has not been paying its Australian crews.

All overseas passenger fleet pilots had been stood down since May last year, the airline said.

Deborah McConnochie, Cathay’s general manager for aircrew, said the decision to close the Canada base was “not taken lightly”. She said the airline had also written to Australian and New Zealand pilots to start a consultative process “based on a proposal to close those base areas”.

“We have not made any decisions on bases other than Canada at this time nor any general decision on the future of bases – each base area will be considered on its own merits and any decision to close, maintain or restructure that base area will not have a bearing on any subsequent base reviews,” she said in a statement.

Covid-19 continues to have a devastating impact on our industry and our airlines,” she added.
“Following the record loss for 2020, all of the company’s cash preservation measures continue unabated. It is clear that we must continue to review all areas of the business to ensure we emerge competitively from this unprecedented global crisis.”
Hong Kong’s flag carrier lost a record HK$21.6 billion (US$2.8 billion) last year.