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DALLAS – With continued COVID-19 limits making it less desirable to work China-bound routes, Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) is dangling allowances of up to HK$5,000 (US$640) per flight as a carrot for pilots rostered to fly into and out of mainland China.
In a note sent to pilots on Thursday and obtained by Bloomberg News, the Hong Kong-based airline acknowledged that its dedicated Chinese mainland operations have “been extremely onerous.”
As per the memo, allowance payments will be initiated after completing the inbound leg of the flight from Hong Kong to China. Payment varies by fleet and rank, with Captains aboard Boeing 747 freighters receiving HK$5,000.
The airline stated that it has made a number of offers, including quarantine, closed-loop, and completion payments. Four sources with knowledge of the matter said that as of Friday, additional compensation wasn’t being offered to the cabin crew.
More than two years into the pandemic, China is still committed to its rigorous zero-COVID policy, which has largely cut off communication with the rest of the globe. The economy is being negatively impacted by sudden lockdowns of big cities intended to contain relatively minor outbreaks.
According to the Bangkok Post, as health regulators collect samples from the aircraft, crew and airlines often endure hours-long delays after landing at Chinese airports and lengthy waits to return to Hong Kong. Crews are also required to wear protective bodysuits while in flight in some places, such as Chengdu.
Additionally, the requirement that pilots and cabin crew on China routes have not traveled anywhere else in the world in the previous 14 days — in order to minimize transmission of COVID — further complicates the situation. As a result, certain crews are limited to just operating flights to and from China.
Featured image: Cathay Pacific Cargo B-LJK Boeing 747-867F. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways