Airlines sources who claim to be familiar with the matter are today reporting that British Airways intends to close its cabin crew base in Hong Kong with a number of redundancies likely. The airline has been flying to the Chinese territory for over 80 years and currently serves the city with 14 direct flights per week. Local Hong Kong-based crew have been a mainstay of the operation for decades.
Update at bottom of the article…
It’s not entirely clear why British Airways has decided to close its Hong Kong crew base although insiders suggest the closure is part of a cost-cutting plan at the airline. British Airways has already closed outstation crew bases in a number of other countries – most notably in Singapore.
Opinion on whether the Hong Kong base closure is a wise move by the Heathrow-based airline has divided opinion on Flyertalk. Until recently, it wasn’t unusual for international airlines to have crew bases in key foreign markets where local staff could better serve customers with local language skills and cultural awareness.
Yet British Airways certainly isn’t alone in shuttering these remote crew bases.
Nowadays, we generally only see these outstation bases exist because the crew who work out of them are earning a significantly lower wage than the airline’s home crew – take Australia’s Jetstar and it’s Thai-based cabin crew as a good example of this in action.
That most definitely isn’t the case in Hong Kong – a recent study by the Economist ranked the city as the fourth most expensive to live in the world. Meanwhile, British Airways has focused a lot of effort into reducing its workforce costs in recent years – in 2010, the airline introduced its so-called ‘Mixed Fleet’ cabin crew who earn significantly less than cabin crew on older contracts.
It’s understood that Mixed Fleet crew will be taking over the Hong Kong route once the base has been shuttered. Sources claim that local staff have already been informed of the decision and a formal announcement is expected within days.
The decision by British Airways to close its Hong Kong base is in stark contrast to an announcement it made in April to double the number of Mandarin-speaking Chinese cabin crew who are based in Shanghai and Beijing. It’s understood that significant cultural issues led British Airways to increase its use of local Chinese staff.
British Airways will continue to have local cabin crew bases in India.
Update – 26th September 2018:
In a leaked memo from BA’s Area Manager for its ‘Worldwide Fleet’, the airline confirms it is to close the Hong Kong base due to non-specified “commercial reasons” which made it “unviable for us to continue to operate the base”.
The airline said in the memo that the terminations would be made with immediate effect. It’s understood that Hong Kong-based cabin crew who were on rotation in London will deadhead back to Hong Kong.
“Please can you kindly return to British Airways immediately all items belonging to British Airways and your British Airways ID card” the memo bluntly continued. Those affected will receive just 7-days worth of pay in severance.
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