Atlantic City

Published on Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Cathay Pacific asks employees to take three weeks' unpaid leave

Cathay Pacific Airways is asking its 27,000 employees to take turns in taking three weeks of unpaid leave as it struggles amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In a video message to employees, CEO Augustus Tang said the situation is as grave as the 2009 financial crisis, The South China Morning Post reports.

The request comes a day after Cathay said it will cut around 90% of its flights to mainland China over the next two months. The airline is also cutting flights elsewhere, which will result in a total 30% cut in global capacity.

Tang told employees: "These cuts are temporary for now and driven by the commercial and operational realities at the current time, as well as the projections in short-term demand."

Passenger traffic has plunged 50% in recent days, according to an internal briefing note by Mark Hoey, the general manager of operations.

There are also concerns the airline may have to ground planes, which is a measure Cathay took during the SARS epidemic in 2003.

In a filing to the HK stock exchange, the airline remained upbeat.

"Cathay Pacific's current financial position remains strong and will enable it, despite the current difficult trading conditions, to maintain the quality of its products and services."

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