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Cathay Pacific asks staff to take special leave

09 May 2003

Cathay Pacific Airways today announced that all staff have been asked to participate in a Special Leave Scheme in order to help the company overcome the crisis caused by the downturn in passenger business in reaction to SARS. It is one of the many money saving measures being taken by the company to conserve cash and help preserve jobs.

The airline's passenger business is down about 75 percent from the same period last year. Its schedule has been cut by about 45 percent and 16 aircraft have been temporarily parked in order to adjust to the sharp drop in demand.

A wide range of measures have already been implemented to cut costs and make savings, including the recommendation this week from the Board of Directors that shareholders accept a 50 percent reduction in the proposed 2002 dividend payment.

Under the planned Special Leave Scheme staff at all levels, including the Chairman, Chief Executive and Directors, will be asked to accept a "Less Work Less Pay" arrangement whereby individuals will take four weeks' unpaid leave between June and September. Benefits will not be affected during this period.

The company has been in consultation with unions and staff representative groups and agreed to spread the reduction in take-home pay over six months to help ease employees' financial burden. A minimum monthly take-home pay level has also been created to protect the lowest paid employees in the company.

Cathay Pacific Director Personnel William Chau said: "The scheme is a measure to conserve cash and help preserve jobs. We know it is painful for all of us, but it is important that we are all in it together to support the company and each other. If our revenues remain as weak as they are now, this scheme will not by itself solve our problems, but it is one very important measure among the many we are taking."