ASIAN airlines, along with other international carriers using Kai Tak airport, are watching Cathay Pacific closely during its present wage negotiations. The Hong Kong general manager for United Airlines, David Solloway, said last week: ''Everyone is negotiating at this time of year and no-one is going to say a thing about it. ''Everybody is watching Cathay carefully. I don't want to make the mistake of talking to my staff through the press,'' he said. Korean Air's vice-president for Southeast Asia, S. M. Choi, said he too was keeping a close eye on Cathay Pacific, especially after its cabin attendants' strike earlier this year. ''We are also in wage negotiations with the unions and we watch Cathay closely because when a carrier has that kind of problem, it is a lesson to us,'' Mr Choi said. ''Of course we are also very worried about a strike. It would be terrible. It is the passengers who suffer a lot. ''During the last Cathay strike, we helped them with some extra charters. I don't want them to have another strike but, in case anything happens, we can help them.'' Mr Choi said Korean Air had ''to have a very close talk with the unions and our staff because the airlines are having a difficult time this year. They must realise what our performance is and, if they are interested in the company's survival, then they must not ask for too much. ''We have explained our situation to the unions. We had a wage freeze but then a couple of days ago we increased salaries by 4.7 per cent from December.'' Mr Solloway said United Airlines had also spoken to its staff at a round table meeting, where employees voiced their concerns to senior managers. ''We have had our manager of human resources come in from Honolulu. We have done an independent market study with an outside firm on the wages of other airlines, and our human resources manager in Hong Kong has done an independent survey with the large size carriers in the territory on their wages. ''We are looking for an increase in our pay and we're hoping to have it sorted out by the first week in January,'' he said. A spokesman for Thai Airways admitted wages was a sensitive issue as ''we are now doing wage evaluations for the new year's salaries. ''We will be watching Cathay closely so we do not have any discrepancies. Of course, as one of the airlines using Hong Kong, we have to keep our salaries competitive,'' he said. The spokesman said Thai Airways tried to keep its wages ''almost on the same level'' as Cathay. ''The one problem we are facing is the high turnover of staff but all airlines have this problem,'' he said. ''They think they can earn more per month as a sales girl so they quit. They don't think of the benefits.'' Malaysia Airlines is also currently carrying out wage evaluations and a spokesman for the carrier said: ''We do compare with Cathay and other airlines as to what position we are in, but when we do wages we also look at the CPI [Consumer Price Index]. ''Because Cathay is the Hong Kong flag carrier, we monitor them closely but we don't follow their every step. We will see what they do, what their results are,'' the spokesman said. A spokesman for Indonesia's national carrier, Garuda, said his airline was also involved in wage evaluations but said Garuda did not have any union problems. ''I don't really want to comment. We are doing wages and, yes, we do watch Cathay,'' the Garuda spokesman said. United Airlines is to handle Virgin Airways in the territory, Mr Solloway said. ''Virgin sent us a fax last week saying they would like United to handle them. We have already received approval in writing from the Civil Aviation Department,'' he said.