29 May 2000
123Cathay Pacific Airways wishes to clarify a misleading newspaper report today (South China Morning Post, 29 May 2000) which suggests that the sickness absentee rate among the airline's pilot community is rising and that some pilots may boycott a company request to trade in annual leave for extra pay. The report speculates that the airline may be forced to cancel flights as a result.
The facts are as follows. Cathay Pacific is operating normally, with no disruptions to services of the kind being suggested. Reported levels of sickness amongst aircrew remain low, and are in line with industry norms.
Cathay Pacific recently announced plans to expand its fleet with the addition of new aircraft, and is recruiting additional cockpit and cabin crew accordingly. So far this year the airline has already added 80 new pilots, increasing the total number of aircrew employed to 1,382.
Under the seniority system prevalent in the airline industry, this expansion will also result in a significant number of internal promotions for senior aircrew. This requires additional training, particularly in cases where command training is needed on various aircraft types.
To help accelerate the process, the company has intensified the training effort, and also introduced measures to allow aircrew to defer some of their normal annual leave or, on a voluntary basis, to sell back some of their leave entitlement to the company. This is an accepted industry practice and similar measures are used by other respected international airlines on a regular basis.
"As an airline, we are responding quickly to the pick-up in market demand following the regional economic recovery. Our aircrew are an important part of that effort and are tackling the task of ramping up for future growth with their usual professionalism," said Cathay Pacific Director Corporate Development Tony Tyler. "In some cases this may mean carrying forward a few days leave to next year or, if they choose, accepting the company's offer to buy back some days. We appreciate their support."
Aircrew conditions and hours of work are closely regulated in accordance with international rules and applicable local regulations promulgated by the Civil Aviation Department of the Hong Kong Government. Cathay Pacific aircrew enjoy from three to six weeks annual leave, depending on seniority.