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Cathay Pacific Group adopts clean sheet strategy for shaping new structure

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October 1st 2020

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At press time, with pilot union leaders metaphorically banging on senior management’s door demanding a place at the airline group’s restructuring table, the lead Hong Kong airline group continued it’s softly, softly campaign of managing the public’s expectations of inevitable job losses from the Hong Kong icon’s root and branch restructuring. Read More »

In an early October note to members of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, chairman Tad Hazelton said Cathay Pacific’s director of flight operations had told him there was no firm date for any announcement about the restructuring of the company “as details were continually changing”.

“Management still aims to present the future size and shape of the company to the board in the current quarter,” Hazelton wrote to HKAOA members in a memo circulated widely at the airline group.

In the meantime, the group’s CEO, Augustus Tang, told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post that smaller aircraft could be in play in its future fleet and that a review of the size of its business class offering was part of restructuring discussions.

In August the group reported an interim loss of HK$9.9 billion (US$1.28 billion), the biggest in its history and a result of COVID-19, Cathay Pacific Group chairman, Patrick Healy, said.

The airline group had undertaken an earlier three- year transformation, advised by the McKinsey management consultancy. It reduced the airline’s home city headcount by 600 and preceded lay-offs at its outports.

The Cathay group employs more than 20,000 staff worldwide. Passengers of the company’s airlines are running at about a 1,000 a day. Earlier this year, the group was a recipient, along with most major companies in Hong Kong, of government backed salary support and a package of loans that it must be repaid in five years. At the time the relief deal was announced, Tang told media the airline group had approached the government for assistance.

The prestigious airline company is not alone among top tier carriers in the region being forced to make redundant thousands of employees due to the capacity rout brought on by the pandemic.

In September Singapore Airlines Group CEO, Goh Choon Phong, announced 4,300 jobs had to go at the flag carrier. He said 1,900 jobs had disappeared through natural attrition, vacant jobs not filled and voluntary retirements. These staff reductions were not enough to avoid the elimination of another 2,400 positions at the group, he said. (Click here: SIA pilots offer deeper salary cuts to save cockpit jobs)

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