Flight attendants at Cathay Pacific’s wholly owned regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon are set to begin a week-long set of negotiations to improve pay and conditions beginning March 18. The union which represents the airline’s 1,900 flight attendants is seeking an improved pay offer, as well as upping the retirement age after their colleagues at Cathay Pacific won similar concessions last year.
The bid to improve pay and conditions comes just a couple of weeks after Cathay Pacific said it intended to turn a profit for the first time in over two years. The announcement took the industry by surprise after the Hong Kong-based airline suffered significant losses in recent years.
Cathay Pacific says it expects to reach a profit of HK$2.3 billion – a major reversal in the airline’s fortunes after it suffered a $1,259 million loss in 2017. The airline is midway through a painful transformation plan that has seen hundreds of management roles at the airline’s head office cut, while significant resources have been spent on improving the onboard product.
Cathay Pacific has seen big improvements in capacity, yield and load factors on the back of the changes and has managed to cut losses from mistakes it made hedging fuel. The airline’s cargo business has also been a star performer.
In a separate a deal, flight attendants at the mainline carrier won a 3% pay rise and an annual bonus worth a months salary after negotiations concluded late last year. While Cathay Pacific flight attendants initially demanded a 5.5% pay rise, they did win the right to up their retirement age from 55 years old to 60.
This will be the first set of pay talks since Cathay announced a return to profits and Cathay Dragon flight attendants are demanding a 3% pay rise, along with a 5% increase on hourly flight duty pay. Flight attendants also support an increase in retirement age to match that of their colleagues at Cathay Pacific.
Additionally, the union will be seeking assurances on a new crew rostering system and is hoping to win some other minor improvements, such as improvements in crew luggage and accommodation.
“Cabin Crew as the front line staff, do play an important role in helping to strive for operational excellence in the industry. The excellent service of Cathay Dragon crews provided is the power behind the brand of Cathay,” explained the Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association.
Formally known as Dragonair, the airline was renamed Cathay Dragon in 2016 and a rebranding exercise has brought it closer to the parent Cathay Pacific brand.