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Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific eyes 'structural change'

05/11/2020| 6:54:23 PM|

Most of the airline group’s 34,200 staff have signed up to take three weeks of unpaid leave, a scheme which expires in June.

Cathay Pacific is looking at “structural change” as it investigates how to downscale its business in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Post has learned.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier is mulling scenarios that could reduce staff headcount, routes served and planes flown, as well as the possible consolidation of its airline brands, in drastic steps that would mirror those taken by rivals in recent weeks.

“We are currently working with colleagues from across the airline to model varying degrees of structural change that may be required to preserve our business and our collective future from the catastrophic impact of Covid-19,” the airline told its pilots, who were asked to meet management about potential changes.

“No firm direction has yet been set,” the letter emphasised.

As the carrier extended the cancellation of most passenger flights until the end of June, sources said a fresh round of effective pay cuts was set to be rolled out, with around four more weeks of unpaid leave suggested.

Most of the airline group’s 34,200 staff have signed up to take three weeks of unpaid leave, a scheme which expires in June. Staff were also asked to clear their annual leave by the end of that month.

A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said: “Given the very dynamic situation we are currently in, we are not taking anything off the table and we can’t rule out anything to ensure our airline business will come out from the crisis stronger and more competitive.”

The Post understands Cathay is not planning to sign up to the government’s wage-support scheme, which offers cash to firms that guarantee they will not shed staff over the subsidy period, which lasts until October.

Cathay Pacific has grounded nearly all flights since April after steep cuts to its schedule in February and March. Business was already struggling through several months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong and management turmoil.

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