According to a recent Bloomberg story, Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways is considering eliminating its pilot bases in the United States as it continues to cut expenses to stem a cash outflow from operating so few flights amid the COVID crisis.
Cathay Pacific has hubs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Anchorage, Alaska, which is a key freight hub. Because of the epidemic, the airline’s US-based passenger pilots, who fly Boeing 777 planes, haven’t flown in almost two years, and entry to Hong Kong remains restricted. Cathay 100 pilots are based in the United States, where they are on more expensive legacy contracts.
“Our US-based pilots have been informed that the company is contemplating closing all US pilot bases and offering our US-based pilots the opportunity to relocate to Hong Kong, subject to them holding or obtaining the right to live and work in the city,” a Cathay spokeswoman wrote in an email, according to the Bloomberg report.
Due to the devastating impact of the pandemic, Cathay has already closed facilities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand and laid off hundreds of pilots, forcing it to run only a quarter of its pre-virus flying schedule.
The study comes as the global airline industry suffers from a shortage of frontline employees now that most international borders have reopened and people are flying again, after slashing thousands of positions to cut costs during the pandemic’s peak. Hong Kong, on the other hand, has taken longer to reopen.