Cathay Pacific Closing its London Pilot Base

by Nida Zakaria

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, is considering closing its London pilots base, potentially putting up to 100 jobs at risk. Following one of the worst years in aviation history, the airline is looking for cost-cutting opportunities everywhere it can.

Cathay Pacific suspended operations in London in July and closed bases in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany this year in order to concentrate operations in Hong Kong, where pilots have taken permanent wage cuts to save their jobs.

The airline stated that the London-based pilots, many of whom have not flown since April 2020, will be offered redundancy or the opportunity to relocate to Hong Kong.  It also stated that it would conduct an assessment of its US bases later this year.

The airline declined to disclose the number of jobs lost.

Cathay Pacific (©cathaypacific)

Cathay Pacific (©cathaypacific)

Despite the fact that the majority of its fleet had been parked due to the pandemic, Cathay started hiring pilots with Hong Kong residence rights in June as part of its medium- to long-term strategy.

It reported a 98.4 percent decline in passenger numbers in July compared to the same month the previous year, before the epidemic, blaming the drop on stringent border controls. However, its air cargo industry has done better than it did prior to the pandemic.

Cathay Pacific’s, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) – London Heathrow (LHR) route, was one of the Asian carrier’s most profitable routes before the pandemic turned the world upside down. Cathay Pacific flew five times a day from Hong Kong to London in 2019. However, the airline is now only able to operate one flight per day, owing in part to Hong Kong’s strict COVID-19 rule.

The airline is still in a money-saving mode as it attempts to emerge from the crisis as a profitable airline again, given the current conditions and COVID-19 regulations currently in place in Hong Kong.

What are your thoughts on Cathay Pacific’s decision to close its London pilots base? Please let us know in the comment section.

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