Cathay Pacific Closes US Bases: 300 Jobs Affected

Cathay Pacific is making significant changes to its international crew bases. As the airline has grounded the majority of its fleet, it has decided to reassess its current global crew status. The changes include standing down pilots and closing crew bases. Although this was announced today, when this will take effect remains unspecified.

Cathay Pacific, Crew, US Bases
Cathay Pacific will close its three United States crew bases. Photo: Getty Images

Cathay Pacific hasn’t had the best of luck of late. For a large portion of 2019, the airline faced a huge decrease in passenger traffic due to the ongoing Hong Kong protests. However, just as things looked to be getting better, a whole new crisis gripped the entire world. Many airlines from around the globe have been forced to adjust their staffing, and now this includes Cathay Pacific.

What’s happening?

According to Reuters, today, Cathay Pacific has announced a swathe of changes to its international crew bases. Around 300 members of staff will be affected in the United States. The Hong Kong carrier will close its three US bases located in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. As such, the publication reports that the airline is communicating with the 286 employees affected by the closures.

A Cathay Pacific spokesperson confirmed the news to Simple Flying, commenting:

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has virtually halted global travel, Cathay Pacific has made the difficult decision to close its US cabin crew bases. There are currently 286 cabin crew based in the United States in 3 cities; New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We are communicating with our people and the union.”

cathay pacific flights getty images
Many Cathay aircraft are currently grounded in Hong Kong. Photo: Getty Images

However, there’s more. In a separate post, Reuters also revealed that changes were happening elsewhere in the Cathay Pacific network. The oneworld member has Boeing 777 crew based in London. Eligible members of staff are being placed on the government’s job retention scheme. Access to the scheme is a privilege being fought for by ex-Flybe pilots.

Finally, from the 1st of May, Cathay Pacific will be standing down its Australian crew. According to Reuters, this will affect 129 members who have been asked to bring forward holiday in addition to other measures. Cathay Pacific doesn’t believe that these staff will be needed before the end of June.

Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Getty Images
Very few Cathay flights are currently running due to the current climate of the aviation industry. Photo: Getty Images

Traffic has plummeted

Due in part to restrictions put in place by the Hong Kong government, Cathay Pacific has seen its traffic plummet. Simple Flying recently reported that the carrier was handling less than 600 passengers per day. That’s similar to the capacity of a fully-loaded Airbus A380.

According to the South China Morning Post’s Danny Lee, Hong Kong’s travel restrictions are currently in place until mid-June. However, it is unknown whether they could be further extended. Indeed, this will likely depend on how the crisis continues to develop globally.

Are you affected by the Cathay Pacific base cuts? Do you think it is the right thing to do? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.