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Cathay pilots mull China move to escape big squeeze

October 27, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Moves by Cathay Pacific to slash staff salaries and benefits have opened a market for the airline’s highly regarded pilots, with mainland Chinese carriers eager to poach them, reports from Hong Kong say.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post has reported that about 200 pilots from Cathay Pacific are considering their options and have registered with a recruitment agency. China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines are among potential hirers.

Cathay has launched an austerity drive to reduce its severe losses. In the six months ended June 2017, the airline lost HKD 2.05 billion (about AUD 335.30 million) putting it on track for its first ever back-to-back annual loss since it was set up in 1946.

Since posting those results, Cathay Pacific has sharpened its three-year transformational and cost-cutting plan. Already the plan has seen 600 jobs axed. As well, pilots were told last month they would face a salary freeze, pension changes and cuts to housing allowances worth HKD 1.2 million, the South China Post reported.

The paper quoted Deborah White, marketing manager for Longreach Aviation (which recruits pilots for Chinese airlines) saying interest among pilots in moving to Chinese mainland airlines had shot up from a low base into “hundreds” of inquiries.

The paper said a pilot moving to an airline in mainland China could expect a salary of up to USD 280,000 (AUD 358,000) a year after tax. A fair few Australian pilots might be interested in that.

Written by Peter Needham

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