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Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants to Stage ‘Work to Rule’ Protest Ahead of Busy Chinese New Year Celebrations

Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants to Stage ‘Work to Rule’ Protest Ahead of Busy Chinese New Year Celebrations

Flight attendants at Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific say they will start a ‘work to rule’ protest ahead of the busy Chinese New Year holidays in an escalating protest over working conditions.

In an open letter to the airline’s customers, the Cathay Pacific flight attendants association warned passengers would face disruption to their travel plans once the ‘work to rule’ program starts on January 19.

“While we always provide service straight from our hearts, our hearts are broken,” the union said in Tuesday’s letter. Cathay flight attendants say they have “reached the edge” following mass redundancies and pay cuts, as well as staffing cutbacks and reduced layover periods.

“These cuts also cause impact on customer safety and prolonged inflight service, which undoubtedly affect the overall experience of our valued passengers,” the letter continued.

The union rejected claims from the airline that flight operations would go unaffected by the ‘work to rule’ protest.

Flight attendants are being encouraged to follow every rule and procedure to the letter. The ‘work to rule’ protest could delay or even ground flights if flight attendants start flagging minor issues that would normally be deferred to a later date.

The union is also calling on flight attendants to turn down overtime and additional work and to call in sick if they are feeling under the weather.

Flight attendants have become particularly disgruntled at onboard staffing cutbacks and reduced layover periods. The airline says it is working to improve rosters and is hiring back flight attendants but has warned that it may take months for working conditions to improve.

Cathay Pacific was already struggling to ramp up operations following nearly three years of pandemic-induced cutbacks, but the airline is now rapidly trying to build back its network and schedule after nearly all travel restrictions were suddenly lifted.

A spokesperson for the airline says all flights are operating with at least the minimum number of legally required cabin crew, and there is “no safety issue” posed by recent cutbacks.

In a statement, the airline says it “appreciates the patience of our cabin crew.”

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