Newly qualified cadet pilots at Cathay Pacific will soon have to spend a stint working at boarding gates and in the arrivals hall at Hong Kong International Airport as part of an induction programme that is meant to improve their customer service skills.
In a leaked memo, the pilots (who are qualified as Second Officers) were told that they’ll have to work at “various customer-facing touchpoints” across the airport as part of their induction to the airline.
Cathay Pacific reopened its cadet pilot training programme in March 2022 with plans to hire 400 new pilots by the end of 2023. Cadet pilots undertake a 60-week ground training course at Hong Kong Polytechnic University before being sent to Adelaide in Australia or Phoenix in the USA to start their flight training.
Once they’ve learnt to fly, the cadets then return to Cathay’s Pacific’s Headquarters in Hong Kong, where they complete multi-crew simulator training and further ground-based training.
That training will now include a two-month module at Hong Kong International Airport, where they’ll learn about airport infrastructure, back-of-house operations and workflow patterns.
“This initiative will be an excellent addition to your broader professional development and prepare you well for your career at Cathay Pacific and is intended to help drive towards our vision of being one of the world’s greatest service brands,” the memo shared by Aaron Busch on Twitter read.
“The primary goal of this initiative is to provide you with a greater understanding of our customer service ethos and our airport operations,” the memo continued. “The experience will help you develop strong customer service skills and provide you with knowledge of a range of airport functions”.
Second officers assigned to the programme will do three shifts per week for two months before returning to their core training. Reluctant pilots have been told that they can’t book leave in order to avoid their stint working at the airport.
This type of initiative is not common practice in the aviation industry, and many airlines only provide pilots with basic customer service and First Aid training. Cathay Pacific, however, says customer-facing training secondments are becoming more commonplace and are already routine for new managers at Cathay Pacific’s parent company, Swire.
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 relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
Hahaha… WOW…what an amazing coincidence that at exactly the same time that Cathay can’t find enough gate and check-in staff to man their operations… they also discover a new found desire for Second Officers to be ‘provided with a greater understanding of our customer service ethos and our airport operations’! … despite the fact there is zero value for a pilot to know about the gate staff or check in jobs that can’t be covered in a tour or a lesson… And certainly no need to work in it for 2 months.
Interestingly, you would think that if they desired to broaden their pilots professional skills, pilots would extract far more benefit working in the integrated operations centre, scheduling, ATC, the flight dispatch/planning/performance/load control teams or revenue. Experience in any of these areas is far more relevant and beneficial to their job. It’s almost like there are maybe other reasons to send them to staff the gate? Hmmmm…
All whilst at the same time Cathay is reducing the standards and requirements for their actual pilot training. So… for a pilot… learning to work at the gate is now important to make you a better pilot… however actual pilot training… less important in making you a better pilot?!?
This is just the typical management pantomime where they piss on your leg an tell you it is rain. “Oh yes Blogs… this is all about your training.” Hahahaha….