The Cathay Pacific pilots' union has urged its members to accept a deal offering 10-month payouts or job interviews to sacked colleagues, despite strong opposition from some of the '49ers' group. In a letter to members ahead of a vote on whether to accept the Cathay offer, Aircrew Officers Association president Murray Gardner said pilots would have 'let the 49ers down terribly' if they rejected the deal and no further offer was made. Mr Gardner acknowledged opposition among the 49ers to the deal, which obliges them to drop their court cases against the airline, but warned: 'We must assume this is the best offer they [Cathay Pacific] are prepared to make. 'We are well aware that all 49ers are disappointed ... with the terms of the offer and would have hoped for more in any offer of resolution,' Mr Gardner wrote. 'Some have indicated that they will accept, others have indicated they would accept reluctantly, and some are likely to reject the offer regardless of the decision of the association. That is their individual right.' The 49ers were among 51 pilots sacked by Cathay in July 2001 during a dispute over pay and rosters, which resulted in a work-to-rule campaign by association members. In the offer that the association leadership has endorsed, Cathay is offering payouts or interviews as low-grade freighter pilots to 49ers who want to return to the airline, provided they drop all legal action. Association members will vote by February 15 on whether to accept the deal and cut off the extensive funding they have provided for the 49ers to fight court cases in Britain, Australia and Hong Kong. A poll of 49ers' views is expected to be released on February 1 and pilots opposed to the deal say they believe 'only a handful' will support accepting the offer. One sacked pilot said: 'As far as we know, only two 49ers have definitely accepted. Everyone else is very strongly against it.' Some sacked pilots say they are unhappy over a required psychological test if they reapply for a job under the deal, fearing it will be used to refuse them employment. They also fear they may damage their chances of getting employment elsewhere if they are refused a job back with Cathay.