Cathay Pacific to lay off overseas cabin crew, furlough pilots

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FILE PHOTO: A passenger walks to the First Class counter of Cathay Pacific Airways at Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong, China April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) will lay off 286 cabin crew based in the United States and furlough 201 pilots based in Australia and Britain, it said on Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic has virtually halted global travel.

The carrier has grounded most of its planes because of falling demand, flying only a skeleton network in April and May to major destinations such as Beijing, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver that makes up 3% of normal capacity.

In a statement, Cathay said it was communicating with the affected cabin crew based in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as their union.

The airline said it was standing down 129 Airbus SE (AIR.PA) pilots in Australia from May 1 until around June 30, although the end date could change.

“Australia-based pilots are encouraged to bring forward their leave or apply for Cathay Pacific’s reduced salary scheme,” it added.

Its 72 London-based Boeing Co (BA.N) 777 pilots will be furloughed and receive government assistance, if eligible, while pilots based in the United States and Canada are voting on a reduced salary scheme, the airline said.

Last month Cathay announced the closure of its Vancouver cabin crew base, with 147 crew, as part of a business review.

On Thursday, it said it was exploring options to ride out the storm and doing all it could to preserve cash. One day this week, it had carried just 302 passengers, compared to around 100,000 on a typical day.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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