Cathay Pacific 'assurance' of no flight disruption
Airline tells agency it has contingency plan for holiday period in case of action by cabin crews
Cathay Pacific has assured a leading travel agency that its flights will not be disrupted by industrial action over the Christmas holiday because the airline has a contingency plan.
The assurance to Wing On Travel came despite a warning by the 6,000-strong Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union that there will "definitely" be industrial action during the holiday period if the airline does not resume talks on a pay rise and other matters.
Wing On Travel's assistant general manager (China) Daisie Sin Pui-fong said her company had asked Cathay Pacific yesterday about any possible disruption following the vote in favour of industrial action on Monday.
"They gave us a lot of confidence and said that flights scheduled during Christmas and on New Year's Eve would not be affected," Sin said.
The union has said it plans actions including a work-to-rule or limited services at any time. But a strike, if any, will not happen before New Year's Eve to limit disruption to travellers.
Sin said that while Cathay said it had a contingency plan, it did not give details. "I guess it will rearrange the number of staff on standby," she said.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman also declined to give details of the contingency plan.
She said advanced bookings were strong over Christmas and New Year and were comparable with last year's, with the most popular destinations including Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Bangkok.
"We do not see any major changes these days," the spokeswoman said.
Two other big travel agencies said they had seen no sign of passengers cancelling flights or switching to other airlines, nor were they avoiding Cathay for their package tours.
Hong Thai Travel Services deputy general manager Daniel Chan Kin-pang said: "I believe that while some flight attendants support the industrial action, some of them will still continue to go to work."
Travel Expert's general manager of marketing and product development, Susanna Lau Mei-sze, said she believed that Cathay Pacific might charter flights from other airlines if a there was a strike, as it did during the last strike in 1993.
The latest dispute was sparked after the airline announced on November 30 that its flight attendants would get a 2 per cent pay rise next year instead of the 5 per cent the union has demanded.
Meanwhile, Julian Yau Chi-hung, the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union's vice-chairman, said that the union had been busy updating members' contact information and would be able to advise them of any industrial action by text message.