MIAMI – In a continued effort to contain losses caused by the Covid Pandemic, Cathay Pacific (CX) is going to close or restructure its pilots’ bases beginning with those based in Canada.

As reported by the Financial Post and South China Morning Post, CX is posed to close down its base in Canada and is reviewing the situation concerning those in Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Europe. If brought to its end, the action would result in important job losses, with the review concerning the US and Europe to be done during the current year.

The destination of those pilots eventually furloughed is not yet clear or decided. CX has mentioned the possibility of a voluntary transfer to its Hong Kong (HKG) base but this solution may encounter oppositions.

The first issue is the short visa period allowed by the HKG authorities to expatriates while the second would be disapproval deriving from the huge local pilot’s availability following the closure of Cathay Dragon (KA).

Cathay Dragon KA974 B-HSJ Airbus 320 – Photo : By N509FZ – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Crew Relocation in HKG May Face Opposition

In this second case, local authorities would not approve the new arrival of foreign pilots in HKG and would give preference to the hiring of local personnel. For the time being, furloughed pilots based in Canada are receiving two-thirds of their salary while those in Europe and the US are paid half of it.

Cathay pilots based in Australia have not received their pay since April 1. CX has indicated that all foreign-based pilots are out of work since May 2020.

Cathay is consulting with New Zealand and Australia pilot’s unions on base closure in these two countries and Deborah McConnochie, General Manager Air Crew stated that “we have not made any decisions on bases other than Canada at this time nor any general decision on the future of bases – each base area will be considered on its own merits and any decision to close, maintain or restructure that base area will not have a bearing on any subsequent base reviews”.

The airline has already closed down overseas cabin crew bases and ceased operations of its subsidiary KA in order to contain losses, at a cost of approximately 6,000 jobs, while crew based in HKG agreed on permanent salary reductions. CX revenue can count only on international markets, its domestic network being non-existing, and in 2020 has shown a loss of US$2.8bn (HK$21.65bn).

Featured image: Cathay Pacific Airbus 350-1000 B-LXD – Photo: Aidan Pullino/Airways