Cathay Pacific staff to get pay rise as reward for ‘dedication and contribution’ despite airline racking up HK$263 million in losses
- Some 14,600 cabin crew and ground staff are in line for an increase of between 3 and 8 per cent – unlike pilots, who are not included
- The airline says the rise comes despite the very competitive environment it continues to operate in
Cabin crew and ground staff working for Hong Kong’s flagship airline will get a pay bump next year, plus a one-month bonus, despite the company suffering financial losses since 2016.
Most staff will receive a 3 per cent pay rise, although junior flight attendants who are on hourly contracts and have worked for the airline for more than seven years are in line for an 8 per cent raise.
On Thursday, Cathay Pacific Airways announced that its 14,600 eligible employees in the city would see an increase in their average base salary, coming into effect on January 1. The rise does not apply to pilots and Cathay Dragon cabin crew.
The company said the arrangement was done “in appreciation of [the staff’s] dedication and contribution”.
In addition, a 13th-month discretionary year-end bonus for this year would be paid to eligible Hong Kong-based employees of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, “despite the very competitive environment that the airline continues to operate in”.
The announcement came as negotiations between the company and its flight attendants union, which began last Monday, came to a close on Thursday. The Cathay Pacific Local Staff Union had also been in separate discussions on the pay issue with the company since mid-October, and made a similar deal on Thursday.
Cathay lost HK$263 million (US$33.6 million) in the first half of this year, after coming off two consecutive years of unprofitability. It cut 600 jobs last year, while seeking to boost productivity and generate new forms of revenue. Its staff received a pay rise of 1 per cent this year.
This year, the airline added 1,800 jobs, largely in frontline positions, such as cabin crew, ground staff and pilots, while also sacking numerous workers overseas in a bid to save money.
Financial analysts have projected a return to profitability for the airline in 2019.
Vera Wu Yee-mei, chairwoman of the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union, said she was satisfied with the deal, despite initially asking for a 5.5 per cent pay rise.
“We do not look at the percentage only, but the proposal as a whole,” Wu said. “We have made other requests that were related to what we are facing daily at work, and the company managed to give us solutions.”
Wu said other changes included an extra rest day for staff working flights between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv.
The Cathay Pacific Local Staff Union said it was disappointed with the salary adjustment, as its demand for a 5 per cent increase was not met.
“However we understand the challenges the company is facing,” the union said in a notice to its members. “When the company returns to profitability, it should consider reviewing the salary adjustment rate.”