Cathay Pacific, the flagship carrier for Hong Kong, is going through a serious financial crisis due to the impact the coronavirus is having on travel demand. As a result, the airline’s CEO Augustus Tang released a video asking his company’s entire workforce, consisting of 27,000 employees, to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave between March and June.
"We are appealing to all employees to participate in the special leave scheme, which will take effect from 1 March and last until 30 June. All employees will have the option to take three weeks of unpaid leave in this period," said Augustus in the video.
The airline had already been severely impacted by months of protests and civil unrest, which broke out across much of Hong Kong last year, and as the coronavirus continues to negatively affect global tourism, Cathay Pacific has been forced to make some drastic cutbacks.
Among them, the airline has announced that it will stop hiring new staff; has ceased all non-critical spending; and plans to cut up to 30% of its global capacity over the next few months, including reducing 90% of its capacity to mainland China.
"In view of the novel coronavirus outbreak and also a significant drop in market demand, we just announced massive capacity cuts yesterday,” said Augustus.
While the requested leave is voluntary for all employees, Augustus emphasized how important it is for the future of the airline to preserve funds as much as possible.
"I am hoping all of you will participate, from our frontline employees to our senior leaders, and share in our current challenges," Augustus said. "Preserving cash is the key to protecting our business. We have already been taking multiple measures to achieve this.”