Hong Kong Airlines employees face job cuts as lawsuits amass

Markus Mainka

Hong Kong Airlines is potentially greeting 2020 with job cuts, reports South China Morning Post. The carrier aims to reduce costs in order to stay afloat after narrowly avoiding the suspension of its operating license by Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) in December 2019 “in the light of the ongoing financial problems of Hong Kong Airlines Limited (HKA).”

At the forefront of the job cuts are hundreds of pilots and flight attendants. In November 2019, the airline announced that it is axing multiple long-haul routes from its network starting February 2020. Some of those flights are from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Los Angeles, United States, Vancouver, Canada and Tianjin, China. In addition, reports indicate that the fleet will be reduced to 29 planes, making an abundance of spare crews on Hong Kong Airlines’ roster – over 200 pilots and around a third out of the 1,573 flight attendants are set to potentially lose their jobs, according to South China Morning Post.

An airline representative commented that HKA adjusts “staff strength from time to time based on operational needs,” and that the carrier is operating “normally.”

“We have sufficient manpower to run our operation and deliver the best service to all our customers.”

Yet routes and crew are not the only things that Hong Kong Airlines has downscaled recently, as multiple parties, including Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), seized HKA’s aircraft. Lessors are not happy with the carrier as well, as two companies, namely Awas Leasing One and Alafco Irish Aircraft Leasing Sixteen sued the airline over unpaid rent and unsettled payments. In combination, the two lawsuits are looking to claim up to $37.4 million from Hong Kong Airlines.

Flightradar24.com data shows that 10 aircraft in Hong Kong Airlines’ fleet have not been active recently, including several jets that have not flown once in the last 90 days, namely B-LPK (an Airbus A320), B-LNC (A330), B-LND (A330), B-LNF (A330), B-LNK (A330), B-LGD (A350). The airline’s website indicates that it operates 39 aircraft, including six Airbus A350 XWB wide-bodies. 

While the protests in the autonomous region have negatively impacted the operations of Hong Kong Airlines and the other locally-based airline, Cathay Pacific, HKA met 2019 with a loss of $385 million (HK$3 billion), from the previous year, reported Reuters in December 2019.


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