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Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific overseas operations to be affected by ‘review’ of workforce

Company admits audit will have an ‘impact’ but says it’s too early to tell if more jobs will be lost

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 August, 2017, 11:20am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 2:33am

Cathay Pacific Airways would start a “comprehensive review” of staffing at overseas airports and in its foreign offices, the airline’s ­human resources chief said.

The review will affect 7,600 staff outside Hong Kong in more than 100 places. The airline recently cut 600 head office jobs from a total workforce of 26,674.

The company acknowledged the jobs audit would have an ­“impact”. But it was too early to tell if the review would recommend further redundancies or just changes in workers’ roles.

“We’re starting a comprehensive review of our outports, how they work with HQ, which will have an impact on their own organisational structures,” Tom Owen, the airline’s ­human resources director, announced in the company’s staff magazine.

Owen also confirmed that the earlier restructuring of its head office was now complete. The redundancies in May marked the biggest round of job cuts by Hong Kong’s premier airline in 20 years.

“We haven’t touched on the outports,” a Cathay Pacific source said, adding it was “the obvious next step, now that Hong Kong has been reorganised.”

“We have to do a complete review first, and then we’ll have a blueprint of what needs to be reorganised to make the company more competitive and agile.”

Cathay Pacific still ranks among world’s top five best airlines

Slimming down the workforce is part of a three-year plan by ­Cathay to turn itself around from big losses last year. The airline is seeking HK$4 billion in savings over the next three years.

The company gave no time frame for the end of the review, but when the airline announced the first phase of job cuts, it stated “most” of the company restructuring would be complete by the end of 2017.

Joe Chu Yin-cheong, Cathay Pacific Local Staff Union chairman, said: “From the staff point of view, they know that if the company is reviewing manpower, they would be quite worried but up to this point the company has drawn no conclusion on the ­review yet.”

CEO Rupert Hogg said in the staff magazine that despite “difficult” times, growth and fleet ­expansion would continue.

He said he was proud of the company’s status as “Hong Kong’s home airline”, but he was aware that should not be taken for granted. He also acknowledged customer complaints.

“But we are changing for the better,” Hogg said.

Another carrier facing business difficulties, Singapore Airlines, yesterday said it would offer cabin crew voluntary unpaid leave from September to November, a measure it said it would deploy again “from time to time”.

Ellis Taylor, Asia finance editor at aviation news portal FlightGlobal, said of the cost-saving measures by two of Asia’s ­marquee long-haul airlines: “This goes to show that long-haul, ­premium-focused airlines in Asia are still feeling the heat of competition from carriers in China and the Middle East, and are adapting to it, albeit in ­different ways.”