It’s been revealed that flight attendants at Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific are set to call for an inflation-busting 5.5% pay rise in year-end negotiations with airline bosses. The Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union (FAU) is also calling on a year-end bonus equivalent to one month’s pay, enhanced allowances for long-serving flight attendants and increased staffing levels on certain flights for what has been described as a “sophisticated” new Business Class service.
Last year, Cathay Pacific awarded its flight attendants a mere 1% pay rise as the airline battles to reduce costs amid stiff competition from low-cost competitors in its home region and fierce outside pressure from Middle Eastern rivals. Cathay was forced to shed hundreds of middle management roles as part of its cost-cutting programme, although flight attendants didn’t suffer any redundancies.
The airline managed to reduce losses in the first six months of the year and hopes to improve performance throughout the end of 2018. Up to the end of June, Cathay lost HK$263 million – significantly less than the HK$1.7 billion loss the airline made in the same period in 2017. Cathay was helped by improved passenger revenue and yields, as well as its cargo business which has been performing strongly.
“The operating environment for our airlines remains challenging,” explained the airline’s chairman, John Slosar back in August. “We are halfway through our three-year transformation programme, which is designed to make our businesses leaner, more agile and more effective competitors,” Slosar continued.
Cathay’s performance may still be affected by rising fuel costs – a headache suffered by a number of rivals in the region, including Singapore Airlines.
In the last few months, Cathay management finally ratified a decision to increase the retirement age for flight attendants from 55-years old to 60. The flight attendants union had been calling for the change for years – the move had widespread support from staffers but had been initially rejected for increasing expenses at the loss-making airline.
As the airline looks to find more inventive ways to save money, the union has been fighting changes to flight attendant schedules and also protesting changes to hotel accommodation and allowances. Cathay has also been attempting to introduce significant changes to pay and conditions for its pilot community – some of whom have been attracted by packages offered by mainline Chinese airlines.