A stand-off between Cathay Pacific and its flight attendants union softened yesterday when the management appeared to change its attitude on the possibility of further talks over next year's pay rise and other issues.
But a source familiar with the matter said the union would go ahead with its plans for industrial action - a work-to-rule or provision of limited services - around next Friday if the management did not state clearly its willingness to drop all preconditions for resuming talks.
The airline had stressed several times that for it to return to the table, the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union must drop its plans for industrial action and exclude next year's pay rises from the agenda.
Cathay has announced a 2 per cent raise for cabin crew, but the union is seeking 5 per cent.
Yesterday the airline's chief operating officer, Ivan Chu Kwok-leung, took questions on whether it was willing to withdraw any of the preconditions.
Chu did not reply directly, but repeated a few times: "Our door to discussions is always open. We are actively hoping that we can talk to the union about these issues. There are no topics we cannot discuss together."
His words stood in stark contrast to the management's earlier unwavering stance on the matter.
The union welcomed Chu's remarks, calling it a "change of attitude". Union chairwoman Dora Lai Yuk-sim said talks could resume any time if the airline made it clear that no preconditions would be attached.
A tug-of-war was taking place within the management, with people calling for the withdrawal or continuation of the preconditions, the source said.
The Airport Authority said Chek Lap Kok airport had many contingency plans in place, while the Civil Aviation Department said it could ease applications for extra flights to help stranded passengers.
Cathay dominates flight volumes at the airport, the department's records show. On December 10, for example, 236 of the 946 flights were operated by Cathay.