Because they are now paid from engine start-up to engine shutdown, Cathay Pacific pilots are allegedly deliberately taxiing at low speeds to the gate in order to increase their pay.
Managers at the Hong Kong-based airline noted that jets were taking an unusually long time to arrive at the gate after they had landed at Chek Lap Kok International Airport, which led to the discovery of the allegations.
Managers reportedly began timing how long it took competing carriers’ and Cathay Pacific flights to taxi before takeoff and after landing, according to local media.
The findings revealed that some Cathay Pacific aircraft were taking much longer than other airlines’ aircraft to taxi around the airport. As a result, the taxiways were becoming backed up, and aircraft were arriving or departing late.
In a leaked document, Cathay Pacific warned pilots that executives were aware of the situation and were now keeping an eye on the taxiing speeds of the aircraft.
According to Cathay Pacific, taxi speeds exceeding 30 mph are possible, although a slower speed of 15 to 20 knots is more than sufficient. However, it discovered that several aircraft were taxiing at much slower rates than the permitted minimum.
The reason why pilots at the Swire-owned airline are taxiing so slowly isn’t, however, completely clear. Some sources claim the reason is that pilots are paid from the moment the aircraft engines are started to the moment they are shut down at the end of the flight, so increasing this time period will bump up wages.
This idea is supported by the fact that, despite a recent 3.3% pay increase, average pilot wages are 30% lower today than they were before the pandemic.
However, some publications have disputed this idea, noting that the increased taxi time is just five to ten minutes at most, meaning that the pilots wouldn’t make any more money. However, some do assert that the reason why pilots are taxiing more slowly is because they no longer feel the need to be effective.
There is no evidence to suggest that taxiing at a slower speed could jeopardize safety, and Cathay Pacific claimed it has been collaborating with outstations and Hong Kong’s airport administration to maintain a safe and effective operation.