Cathay Pacific offers improved pay deal in bid to end pilots' dispute
Disruption still possible as cockpit crew union sees improved deal as only a 'stepping stone'
Cathay Pacific Airways has made an improved pay offer to its pilots in a bid to end a long-running dispute that could trigger a work-to-rule by cockpit crew over the peak summer travel period.
The offer was tabled on Friday afternoon at the end of a week of intensive talks between airline officials and the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA) to try to end the year-long deadlock over pay and rosters.
The offer, however, is being viewed by the union as a stepping stone rather than a solution. Mediation sessions are now expected to be held in the coming weeks and if those fail, HKAOA members may yet declare a work-to-rule, also known as contract compliance, which could hit summer flights
HKAOA general secretary Chris Beebe, a former US airline pilot, said: "We had a week of negotiations that showed some promise but we still have much work to do.
"It could still be a very long hot summer from the consumers' point of view.
"The committee is determining what they will do next. We do have mediation scheduled and we hope to move expeditiously on this."
Under a "good faith bargaining framework agreement" pilots are entitled to work to rule if mediation is unsuccessful.
An airline spokeswoman said in a statement that even though last week's talks ended in deadlock, the "agreed bargaining process" would continue. A further round of talks is scheduled for the end of July.
The statement said: "The last pay agreement expired in May 2013. All pilots at Cathay Pacific are on pay scales and have been receiving an increase in pay on an annual basis unless they have reached the top of scale.
"We recognise that in certain jurisdictions, the packages of based pilots may have fallen behind the local market levels. However, this is not the case everywhere. The airline has already sought to address these inconsistencies."
The statement added that the airline felt "industrial practices in the US do not necessarily translate well" to an Asian workplace.
"In recent years, many US airlines have been forced to seek major adjustments to the packages of existing pilots both in terms of remuneration and retirement packages. This has not occurred at Cathay Pacific."