cathay pacific1
Running on near empty... Cathay Pacific has seen passenger numbers drop a crushing 99 per cent. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Hong Kong: A union representing Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. crew called on members to sign a petition to prise out more information about a restructuring plan amid concerns that the troubled carrier is set to cut jobs.

"The whole crew community is shrouded in anxiety with numerous unverified news about redundancy circulating among social media groups," Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union said in the petition, adding that it has been "constantly communicating" with management to reveal details of the plan and when it will be announced.

"It is very disappointing that the company refuses to disclose any details of its proposal to the board," said the union, which represents over 7,400 cabin crew, or a quarter of the Hong Kong-based airline's local employees.

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Burning up

Cathay has been pummeled by the pandemic. The impact has been particularly acute on the carrier because it has no home market to speak of - it is still burning through as much as HK$2 billion ($258 million) a month. Passenger numbers are down about 99 per cent from usual and the airline has said it won't survive unless it restructures.

Cathay introduced an unpaid-leave programme earlier this year, and it has lowered salaries and closed crew bases overseas. Chairman Patrick Healy said in August that those cost-control measures wouldn't be enough and that nothing would be ruled out in the strategic review. Job cuts are widely expected to be part of the restructuring plan.

"The new-looking CX would inevitably lead to headcount reductions," Jefferies Hong Kong Ltd. analyst Andrew Lee wrote in a note last month, referring to the airline's code. He said the details of the restructuring are likely to be announced in November.

The union said it wants the company to implement a longer voluntary unpaid-leave programme to help preserve jobs and voluntary early retirement and redundancy with compensation that is better than statutory requirements.