Embattled airline Cathay Pacific has confirmed plans to close its cabin crew base in Vancouver with the possible loss of 147 jobs. Vancouver is home of Cathay’s last crew base in Canada after the airline closed its Toronto base last year with the loss of 120 staffers.
“As part of our ongoing business review, we have made the decision to close down our Vancouver cabin crew base. We are communicating with the union,” a spokesperson told SCMP in a short statement confirming the news on Thursday.
The airline is expected to hold talks with individual crew and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) on Friday and over the weekend. However, according to sources, Cathay has earmarked June 26 for the planned closure of the base.
Last year, CUPE said it was “dismayed” at Cathay’s decision to close its Toronto flight attendant base, saying that the process had shown a “disturbing pattern of indifference by the Company toward its loyal employees”.
Some of the flight attendants affected by the Toronto base closure had been offered positions in Vancouver.
The decision by Cathay to shutter its Toronto flight attendant base came before months-long protests in Hong Kong saw inbound traffic to the territory drop by nearly 50 per cent in the latter half of 2019. The ongoing Coronavirus outbreak has heaped further pressure on the already struggling airline.
Ronald Lam, chief commercial officer of Cathay said the recent Chinese New Year period had been the “most challenging” ever faced by the airline. Cathay is expected to announce its annual results on March 11 but will hold the event behind closed doors for fears over COVID-19.
In the last few weeks, Cathay Pacific has grounded nearly half of its fleet, slashed capacity across its network and asked staff to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave as it responds to the Coronavirus.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.