Another blow: Cathay Pacific to shut pilot base in London?

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Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific is proposing to close its pilot base in London, the United Kingdom, leaving approximately 100 jobs at risk. 

As the latest measure of its cost saving efforts, Cathay Pacific has notified London-based cockpit crew and their union representatives of a proposal to shut down the London pilot base.  

“This is simply a proposal at this stage and no decisions have been made,” Cathay Pacific spokesperson told AeroTime News on July 21, 2021. “We will consult with our employees and their representatives in good faith and give careful consideration to all views provided before making a final decision.”

The British base is the latest to face a probable closure following four other foreign base shutdowns. Earlier in April 2021, Cathay Pacific closed its pilot base in Canada. Other closures followed in Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. To this day, Cathay Pacific is still reviewing North American pilot bases. 

Cathay Pacific carried a total of 40,651 passengers in June 2021, an increase of 50% compared to June 2020, but a 98.7% decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level. 

The Hong Kong-based air carrier, which lacks a domestic market, has suffered substantial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic which caused the collapse of international air travel demand. Cathay Pacific has already laid off 5,900 employees in 2020. As per data, out of 176 aircraft in its fleet, 100 are currently parked.

However, looking into the future, Cathay Pacific is expecting to trim its losses in the first half of 2021, prompting speculations that the ailing air carrier is starting to slowly recover from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic impact. 

“Looking ahead on the passenger side, we will continue to progressively and cautiously add more services to our schedule. The suspension of flights from the Philippines, Indonesia and the UK has had an impact on overall demand; however, we are seeing improvements in other major markets,” read the Cathay Pacific statement written on July 15, 2021. 


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