News

Cathay pilots in pay dispute

Pilots of Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific are due to start work-to-rule action after long-running pay talks broke down, raising the prospect of delays and cancellations in the run-up to Christmas.

Union leaders announced the move – which will see pilots work only their contractual hours – as the latest round of negotiations with airline management over pay and working hours failed on Thursday.

"It is unfortunate that a year of negotiations has brought us to this point," said Chris Beebe, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA).

The union represents more than 2000 Cathay pilots and said 92 per cent of members had approved the action.

"The pilot members, who are based in Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United States, will be instructed to perform their assigned duties in strict conformance with their existing conditions of service," HKAOA said in a statement late Wednesday.

Beebe said the union "looks forward to resuming talks with management for a fairer, more equitable agreement on pay".

A lack of pilots has led to some having to work additional shifts, reports said.

The industrial action comes despite a four per cent salary hike announced in November, backdated to January 2014 and running until the end of April 2015.

Cathay said it was "extremely disappointed" at the decision and that talks would now be put "on hold".

"We are confident that the flight crew community are aware of the high expectation from the travelling public.

"We believe they will continue to fulfil their duties and would not cause any inconvenience to passengers in the upcoming festive holidays," it said in a statement.

The airline announced a pay rise for Hong Kong-based ground staff and cabin crew Thursday, with the majority of workers averaging a 4.5 per cent increase in 2015.

Germany's Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline, was also braced for a pilots' strike on Thursday, with tensions heightened by its plans to expand into low-cost intercontinental services.

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