About 100 Cathay pilots sign a letter addressed to flight operations director Anna Thompson to protest against excessive working hours. (Source: SCMP)
28 Sept 2015
Following a spate of unresolved disagreements between Cathay Pacific and its pilots, a letter bearing the signatures of about 100 pilots to Cathay’s flight operations director Anna Thompson was unveiled nearly a month after its delivery on Aug 19.
The letter says increasing workloads and hours have contributed to “a tired and worn out aircrew body”.
According to Civil Aviation Department’s Flight Standards, airline pilots should not operate an aircraft if they have flown for more than 100 hours for 28 consecutive days or 900 hours for 12 months.
A Cathay pilot, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, has been working for the airline for more than 20 years, said his flight hours have increased from 84 hours to nearly the four-week limit recently.
“[The high flight hours] are unprecedented,” the source said, “Cathay has been expanding and purchasing new planes, but its recruitment is not conducted as well accordingly.
“The working hours outside of flying a plane are unaccounted for by the law, the actual amount of working hours could be 150 hours per month,” he added.
The cancellation of rostering, reduction of long-haul flight pilots from four to three and mounting workloads are stoking pilots’ frustration, he explained.
Despite Cathay forming a working group in response to the pilots’ complaint on Sep 23, it consists solely of people from management, he said, adding that the situation does not seem promising.
“The style of the management is mostly unyielding,” the pilot said. “They rarely make concessions unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Representatives from Hong Kong Aircrew Officers’ Association could not be reached and Cathay have yet to respond to a request for comment. Cathay’s stock price began dropping in early August from $18.76 to $13.58 on Sep 7 and rebounded to $14.60 last Friday, according to data from Bloomberg.
Contrary to the source’s predictions, Law Cheung-kwok, policy director of Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Aviation Policy and Research Centre said the pilots are likely to obtain a favourable outcome and Cathay “may have to submit”.
“From the pilots’ point of view, they know that there is a shortage of pilots and Cathay’s salary is quite good, so they demand a reduction of working hours,” he said.
Mr Law added that Cathay is affected by industrial actions almost every year.
“The employees’ side usually has the upper hand through media exposure while the management usually keeps a low profile,” Mr Law said. “The result of an industrial action in Cathay is very likely a compromise every time.”
Text: Jackson Ho
Reporting: Joanna Wong
Photos/Video: Crystal Tse