Published: 19:05, February 7, 2020 | Updated: 08:11, June 6, 2023
Hong Kong Airlines to cut 10% of workforce
By Pamela Lin

Hong Kong Airlines aircraft are seen at the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, on March 5, 2019. (PAUL YEUNG / BLOOMBERG)

Hong Kong Airlines said it will cut about 10 percent of its workforce, citing the heavy toll the novel coronavirus epidemic is taking on air travel services in the city.

READ MORE: Hong Kong's airlines face job cuts and even bankruptcies

The company will lay off 400 employees and ask its Hong Kong ground crew to take at least two weeks of unpaid leave each month until June, the company’s chairman Hou Wei said in a letter to staff on Friday.

The move aims to ease the difficulties brought about by the outbreak of the coronavirus as global jurisdictions have strict requirements for entering borders and for quarantines

Hou Wei,

chairman of Hong Kong Airlines 

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based airline plans to reduce its daily flights to 30 from 82 for the rest of the month beginning Feb 11. This may lead to further job cuts, Hou said in the letter.

The airline had cut back on over 200 flights in the wake of the deadly outbreak of coronavirus from Jan 30 to Feb 11.

He warned that the weak travel demand may continue into the summer season and the company needs to take further action to stay afloat.

Backed by mainland conglomerate HNA Group, Hong Kong Airlines has already cut flight operations in the second half of last year due to a decreasing number of tourists coming to Hong Kong amid recent social unrest. 

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Hong Kong’s budget airline Hong Kong Express, owned by Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific, also announced it would cut over 80 flights between Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan from Feb 12 to March 26.

On Wednesday, Cathay Pacific asked all its 27,000 staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave over the next few months.

Cathay’s chief executive officer Augustus Tang Kin-wing said preserving cash is now key to protecting the company’s business. 

Cathay said there would also be significant reductions depending on market conditions in the next two months. It is estimated that the airline’s capacity will be reduced by about 30 percent.