Cathay Pacific Airways will require its newly qualified cadet pilots to undergo a two-month working experience at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to work on their customer service skills.
In an airline notice posted on Twitter by Hong Kong journalist Aaron Busch, the airline made it clear that the airport training program for cadet pilots is mandatory, and any leave will not be approved during this period of time.
The cadet pilots will be rostered on a three-times-per-week roster for a 2 month period on their front-facing customer service experience training.
“We will provide you with training and then assign you to various customer-facing touchpoints at the airport. For example, you may assist our passengers at arrivals or with boarding procedures at departures,” Jules Tidmarsh, Cathay head of flying training said in the memo.
“The primary goal of this initiative is to provide you with a greater understanding of our customer service ethos and our airport operations. The experience will help you develop strong customer service skills and provide you with knowledge of a range of airport functions,” Tidmarsh further said.
Not a pilot’s job
Not everyone is happy with Cathay Pacific’s new requirement.
Paul Whetherilt, chairman of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, who’s worked 28 years with the airline, does not agree with the required customer service training.
“This training is not required to be a pilot. The Civil Aviation Department, which issues our licenses, is only interested in pilot competency. Pilots are not generalists that need to be exposed to the whole operation like a management trainee”, Whetherilt told SCMP.
Suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilot Program was relaunched in March 2022.
The 55-60 week training course is structured so that candidates will undergo their ground theory lectures at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Successful candidates will then commence flight training in either Adelaide, Australia, or Phoenix, USA, before returning to Cathay City in Hong Kong for multi-crew simulator training.