PUTTING up 100 people every night in luxury hotel accommodation in Hong Kong is costing Cathay Pacific Airways a fortune, the airline says. That was why it was essential to have a 25-storey luxury hotel as part of its $3.5 billion plan to build its headquarters at Chek Lap Kok airport, Cathay said. 'The hotel will represent significant savings,' said C. F. Kwan, Cathay's manager of corporate communication. While refusing to divulge the amount of money the carrier pays a year in hotel bills, an airline spokesman said it 'was considerable'. 'The need to rent out more hotel rooms will increase in the future if we don't build the hotel,' said Nadia Stoyle, Cathay's corporate communication manager at Chek Lap Kok. The airline said it hoped to save 10 to 20 per cent in costs by centralising its 30 departments under one roof at the new airport. The headquarters is expected to be ready in 1998. How much of the costs are hotel room charges is unclear, but considering that all of the airline's 300 pilots live overseas and must be put up in quality accommodation, the total would be considerable. Another reason for building the hotel is the shortage of hotel rooms in the territory. In the past year or so, property developers have been tearing down hotels in favour of more lucrative commercial premises. This has led to a shortage of room space at certain times of the year. 'Sometimes we have real problems finding places for all of the people,' said Ms Stoyle. 'That is one of the main reasons why we are building.' Other airlines have also complained about the high cost of accommodation for their staff on layover. Airlines usually negotiate for special rates by block-booking rooms for their staff, getting a discount of as much as 35 per cent. But still they complain that room rates in Hong Kong are some of the highest in the region, with the exception of Japan. A Garuda spokesman said rates in the territory were 30 per cent higher than those in Singapore, Jakarta or Bali. Gilbert Chow, managing director of Northwest Airlines, said costs in Bangkok were half those in Hong Kong. 'I think Hong Kong is at the top of the list in terms of expense,' he said. But hotel analysts said they did not expect other carriers to build their own hotels or buy any property in Hong Kong for staff accommodation. 'It is not cost-effective,' said Lawrence Chan of Sun Hung Kai Securities. 'They will continue to book rooms in the future.'