Cathay Pacific’s London Pilot Base To Shutdown?

Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific is proposing the closure of its London pilot base, putting about 100 jobs at risk as a result of its latest cost-saving measures.

According to the details, Cathay Pacific has informed the London-based cockpit crew regarding to their decision to close the London pilot base as part of drastically scaled-back operations overseas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have notified our London-based pilots and their union representatives of a proposal to close our London pilot base. This is simply a proposal at this stage and no decisions have been made,” said the Cathay Pacific spokesperson.

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It is to be noted that earlier, the airline had closed pilot bases in Australia, Canada, Germany and New Zealand in recent months, affecting around 280 jobs, though dozens of crew members who were eligible to work in Hong Kong had opted to relocate.

Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to London Heathrow (LHR) was one of the Asian carrier’s most lucrative routes before the pandemic turned the world on its head. In 2019, the Hong Kong’s flag carrier operated five flights a day from HKG to LHR. Now, however, the airline has been hard-pressed to operate single flight per day due in part to Hong Kong’s stringent COVID-19 requirements.

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In 2020, the government stepped in with a HK$39 billion (US$5 billion) bailout fearing that Hong Kong could lose its status as a major international aviation hub if the airline went under. Last summer, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-Po said:

“It’s not a random person or a random company,” Chan said. “We have to safeguard [the city’s] aviation rights; otherwise, this will cause systematic risk.”

Hong Kong’s embattled flag carrier is still in a money-saving mode, given the current conditions and COVID-19 restrictions in the country. However, it looks to emerge from the crisis as a profitable airline once more.

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