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Cathay Pacific reduces unpaid leave scheme by one week

04 Jul 2003

Cathay Pacific Airways today announced that it will shorten its staff unpaid leave scheme by one week as the airline ramps up its operations and supports Hong Kong's efforts to rebuild the tourism industry.

The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, caused a sharp downturn in the airline's passenger business and local tourism, forcing it to cut about 45 percent of scheduled flights.

All staff were asked to take four weeks unpaid leave as part of a range of measures to help the company conserve its cash reserves and help preserve jobs.

When the World Health Organisation removed Hong Kong from its list of SARS-affected areas, Cathay Pacific responded with an aggressive programme to restore all suspended flights by late September to support Government and industry initiatives to rebuild tourism.

With a full schedule being restored, all employees in Hong Kong and overseas will now work only three weeks less in order to meet busier operational requirements. More than 70 percent of flights will be restored this month and 90 percent of services will operate in August.

The airline resuming a full schedule does not indicate that business is back to normal.

Yields are very low because tickets have been sold at attractive discounts to encourage travellers to come back, and competition remains keen with other carriers. Actual revenue is still falling well short of the break-even point and it will take some time for overall passenger numbers to return to normal.

Cathay Pacific Director Personnel William Chau said: "Cathay Pacific staff showed tremendous support for each other and the company during the crisis, and we believe that they will come together again to help rebuild the company and Hong Kong. The airline acted swiftly to reduce costs when SARS first struck. By shortening the Special Leave Scheme by one week we hope to get back on our feet quickly again."
William Chau
Director Personnel

Cathay Pacific Airways