Hong Kong Airlines is facing difficulties due to China’s lockdowns.
Seven Months Leave on 1.6 Months’ Pay
The airline is asking for volunteers to take several months of leave on severely reduced pay as their demand suffers due to Covid-19 lockdowns. The closure of major cities like Shanghai has disrupted supply chains, reducing the demand for freight – Hong Kong Airlines’ main income stream since the pandemic. Consequently, the airline has had to employ cost-cutting drives to stay afloat.
Management asked pilots to state by Friday whether they are willing to take the leave. Starting from June and lasting until the end of the year, they will be paid only 1.6 months’ salary and allowances for the time they are off. Additionally, they won’t receive this salary until January 2023, leaving the pilots to fend for themselves for the next seven months.
When considering the voluntary leave, pilots were asked to consider “the sustainability of our business” and how their choice would help in “maintaining the employment of most of our colleagues”.
Hong Kong Airlines employs 200 pilots, around half of whom fly the Airbus A330. It was these pilots who were asked to take time off on Tuesday. The airline operates three A330s in the Asia-Pacific region, which it mainly uses for freight. However, lockdowns imposed on Chinese cities have severely affected flight volume. For example, due to cargo stuck in Shanghai, a daily freighter flight to Sydney now flies as little as twice a week.
An industry source told Bloomberg that the airline has plans to bring back three A320s to serve some of the passenger demand in the region, which may offer pilots more opportunities to fly.
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