Cathay Pacific is facing another potential showdown with its pilots just weeks after reaching a pay-rise agreement with them. This time the dispute is over the company's plan to change the basis of its leasing of cargo planes to Air Hong Kong, ultimately cutting Cathay Pacific pilots out of the operation. The pilots' anger is prompted by their fears that the new arrangement may cost jobs and could lead to the airline's entire cargo operation being outsourced. Cathay Pacific wants to 'dry lease' four Boeing 747 freighters - meaning just the aircraft without crew - to Air Hong Kong, replacing an existing arrangement whereby Cathay Pacific pilots fly the Cathay 747s on Air Hong Kong services and use an Air Hong Kong call sign (known as a 'wet lease'). Cathay Pacific owns 60 per cent of the airline, which handles DHL express deliveries, while DHL holds the remaining 40 per cent. Cathay Pacific pilots have been asked to help train Air Hong Kong pilots to fly the Boeing 747s, a situation the Aircrew Officers Association (AOA) warns may lead to tension on the flight deck as pilots train crew who will 'take their jobs'. In a circular to members, the AOA says it believes the dry-leasing arrangement is a step that might ultimately lead to Cathay Pacific's entire cargo operation being outsourced to Air Hong Kong, whose pilots are paid less than those at Cathay. The airline currently has a fleet of 24 Boeing 747 freighters flying to 38 destinations. The circular warns pilots that the dry-leasing deal would have 'serious long term effects on your career'. Air Hong Kong has a fleet of eight Airbus A300-600 freighters and serves 12 destinations. In a letter to the airline's Director of Flight Operations Richard Hall, signed by AOA chairman Peter Vinna and his counterparts from offshore Cathay pilot bases in Australia and Canada, the AOA calls for the plan to be scrapped. The letter says the dry lease would be in breach of a 2003 arrangement for Cathay Pacific pilots to fly the Boeings for Air Hong Kong, and that the union believes management has an 'ulterior motivation' for the step. It says the training of Air Hong Kong pilots by Cathay Pacific crew 'raises the distinct possibility that tensions will exist on the flight deck while these duties are being performed since our pilots are being asked to train crews that will take their jobs'. In an apparent reference to possible pilot action, the letter says: 'What is most unfortunate about this whole situation is that it has the potential to completely undo any goodwill that we were able to achieve by reaching the current pay deal.' A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said Air Hong Kong wanted to operate the aircraft itself and lease further planes 'to meet the demands of its business'. Cathay currently has 10 new freighter aircraft on order. 'All these aircraft will be operated by pilots who currently work for or will be recruited to work for the airline,' she said. 'Opportunities for progression and promotion on the rapidly modernising fleet of aircraft have never been better.'