Few companies have had their private miseries so publicly chronicled as Cathay Pacific Airways. Everyone in Hong Kong has watched the company's fortunes decline as engine faults led to the grounding of Airbuses early last year, presaging a downturn which is the worst in 25 years. A decline in tourist numbers followed swiftly after the handover, and since then Cathay has been as badly affected by the regional economic slump, and finally the trouble over cargo handling at Chek Lap Kok, as any other enterprise in Hong Kong. The turmoil has already cost the jobs of 870 employees in redundancies and 1,000 more will go over the coming months in natural wastage. But with a $175 million operating loss in the first six months of the year, and with the temporary freeze on cargo handling by HACTL costing the company a further $250 million in lost revenue in July alone, an even tougher forecast looks inevitable for the balance sheets in the second half. So Cathay pilots can hardly have been caught unawares by reports that they may be asked to take a salary cut in the next round of wage negotiations. They are in a better position than most to know how badly the company has been affected by the regional crisis, and they must have realised that they could hardly remain immune from the troubles indefinitely. Until recently, they were among the highest paid pilots in the business. Even now the majority earn about $2 million a year. The contrast between their conditions of employment and those of flight attendants is marked. Cabin crews have already had their numbers cut and their workload increased, with one less member on each team. Despite the cancellation of some flights, Cathay has also opened up other routes, thus allowing pilots to retain their jobs. Now it seems it is possible that those in the cockpits may be asked to shoulder part of the pain that their colleagues have already experienced. Certainly no employee relishes a pay cut, but it is preferable to being put out of work. Pilots have a greater degree of job security than most workers today. They are in a cyclical industry which will bounce back once the crisis is over. Then they will be in a position to push for a return to higher pay in a company that still has a rosy future. In other industries workers often have to accept the firm's word that profits have slumped. Cathay's woes have been visible from the start. But they will not last forever.