Some things never change, no matter how dire the circumstances. The terrible events of September 11 may have altered virtually every other facet of life across the world, but not for Cathay Pacific pilots. Their industrial action continues, in spite of the looming crisis in the aviation industry. The only concession is a decision to drop preconditions for a return to the negotiating table. It might have been hoped that a different mood would surface at the annual general meeting of the Aircrew Officers' Association; perhaps even a general acknowledgment that in the present situation, management and staff have a common interest in helping the airline to weather the storm. Even before air travel became a casualty of the global terrorist threat, the dispute had cost Cathay $350 million - 40 per cent of interim profits. The company's share price has plunged to its lowest point in two years. Insurance cover has soared. There is the possible loss of the most lucrative routes if the mainland and Taiwan reach a cross-strait agreement on direct flights. However deeply felt the pilots' grievances, this is no time to pursue them. If the situation deteriorates, resulting in a US recession, most business travel will dry up. As it is, many people are now afraid to fly, and are cancelling both foreign and domestic trips. Fare hikes will cause more fall-off. Cathay, a highly profitable, efficiently run company, is in a better position than smaller airlines, but it is not immune from the crisis confronting this uncertain world. If pilots have a strong case, they can resume talks when life returns to normal. As things stand at the moment, redundancy may be a greater cause for concern than rostering practices.