Airlines from China, Hong Kong put staff on unpaid leave

Photo: © G B_NZ

Airlines from mainland China and Hong Kong have announced to put parts of their workforce on unpaid leave or even lay off employees.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) first reported on Thursday that several Chinese airlines have put all foreign pilots on indefinite unpaid leave, citing sources.

These airlines include Guangzhou-based China Southern, Xiamen Airlines and HNA-owned Hainan Airlines, as well as smaller carriers from mainland China.

On Friday, the SCMP then unveiled that financially struggling Hong Kong Airlines is planning to lay off 400 of its ground staff, roughly 10% of its total workforce. Furthermore, the company is asking all other employees to take two weeks of unpaid leave per month. Chairman Hou Wei reportedly said the changes are crucial for the airline’s very survival.

In December last year, Hong Kong Airlines was close to ceasing operations, after Hong Kong’s aviation regulator gave the airline a deadline for financial turnaround. The carrier did manage to secure its operating certificate a few days later.

The carrier, along with larger competitor Cathay Pacific are hastily scaling down services, especially to mainland China. Both are heavily affected by the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, which shattered demand and pushed worldwide airlines, and even some regulators, to abandon flights to China.

Cathay Pacific recently announced to temporarily reduce its overall global flight services by 30 percent and to cut almost all of its mainland China routes. Now, the carrier and its sister airline Cathay Dragon are also offering their employees to take unpaid leave.