Swire Group

Cathay seeking 400 in its largest ever recruitment

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am

Cathay Pacific Airways will hire 400 ground staff in its largest-ever recruitment at Hong Kong International Airport as it moves to modernise its check-in system and cope with a fleet expansion.

The increase in check-in and boarding staff comes as the airline prepares to take delivery of 94 new aircraft over the next seven years, including 15 this year.

Cathay was in the process of migrating its decade-old check-in system to a more user-friendly web-based system to enhance efficiency, said Carry Chan, Cathay's communication development manager. The new system will be operating by the second quarter of next year, following the implementation of a new seat-reservation system last month at Cathay and Dragonair.

Visa checking will be passed on to ground staff at the boarding gates under the new system.

The 850-strong customer-service team working at Cathay's check-in counters and boarding gates handles more than 50,000 passengers a day on average, but during peak times the passenger volume can reach 97,000.

The long commute time to the airport from elsewhere in Hong Kong, as well as pressure on ground staff during peak travel periods, has resulted in a 10 per cent to 15 per cent turnover rate for ground staff.

To encourage newcomers, a free shuttle-bus service and overtime allowances are being offered to ground staff. Cathay is confident it can recruit 400 customer-services officers by the end of the year, as around 130 were recruited last week. Last year, the airline recruited 300 ground staff.

The monthly starting salary for a customer-services officer is up to HK$12,000, plus allowances. The entry-level salary will be adjusted according to the pay-rise agreement determined between the airline and the union in November of each year.

To streamline the check-in process, Cathay introduced mobile boarding passes earlier this year, allowing passengers to download their passes to their cell phones in the form of a two-dimensional barcode. Passengers can skip the check-in counter and proceed directly to the security check and boarding gates.

'In the first month, 60 to 100 passengers were using the new technology each day, most of them travelling within the region without check-in baggage,' Chan said. She expected the popularity of mobile boarding passes to increase when more passengers became familiar with them.

To deal with customers of different nationalities, Cathay has issued ground staff general guidelines about the special seating preferences of people from different places.

For example, Taiwanese passengers are said to prefer aisle seats at the front of the cabin, while Japanese travellers are so keen on aisle seats that they do not mind separating from their companions. Korean passengers, on the other hand, like window seats.