MIAMI – Cathay Pacific (CX) is suspending an arrangement allowing Crew members to swap flying duties, intensifying rumors that the airline will soon eliminate staff.

Today’s edition of The Standard reports rumors that CX will soon terminate more than 1,500 flight attendants. Also, at least 700 Pilots and 400 headquarters staff, many in the crew resources and training departments, may be cut. So far, the airline has issued no comment.

Rumors abound that Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific will soon be laying off flight attendants, pilots and headquarters staff. Flight attendants union and corporate officials will meet on October 5. Photo: CX

Circular Sent to Flight Attendants

In a circular sent to flight attendants, CX said that beginning this month, those with flying duties can swap them only with those who are also assigned flying duties. They cannot swap with those on leave.

“As our schedule continues to be fluid, it’s crucial we ensure as many as possible of you remain proficient from a safety and service perspective,” said the circular. “From October 1 until further notice, swap requests between crew with flying duties and without flying duties assigned in the month will be temporarily suspended. Other swap guidelines will continue to apply,” it said.

According to The Standard, Pilots received a similar circular earlier this year.

“I have never seen this arrangement during the years I have worked for the company,” one employee said. “It is a really rare move. We were allowed to swap duties between ourselves, as some of us wanted to work more to earn extra money while some wanted more holidays, but not anymore.”

Photo: Max Langley

Flight Attendant Union Responds

Adding to the rumors was a screen capture of a message on WhatsApp. The capture alleges that CX will lay off employees beginning today. It also claims that the carrier reserved all meeting rooms at its headquarters for Flight Attendants to return their uniforms. The airline refused to comment, according to the news outlet.

However, the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union downplayed the rumors.

“Cathay suspending the swap of flight duties is to ensure flight attendants can extend their licenses, as flight attendants might have to be trained again after a certain amount of time without flight duties,” said Zuki Wong Sze-man, chairwoman of the Union.

She added that those assigned flight duties can still swap among themselves. “Rumors about redundancies have been circulating from time to time, and we need not be too concerned. The union will be meeting management [this afternoon] to discuss the problem.”

Featured image: Aidan Pullido