Hong Kong Airlines set to axe more jobs

Hong Kong Airlines is set to announce another round of mass layoffs as the airline industry continues to bear the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cash-strapped carrier slashed around 650 jobs last year, while remaining staff had been asked to take unpaid leave.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the airline said an internal restructuring is needed to keep the company afloat.

“To ensure that Hong Kong Airlines is in a better position to operate in the challenging years ahead, an internal restructure is deemed necessary to help the company achieve a leaner and more efficient organisation,” it said.

“We will communicate details to our employees in the coming days.”

According to media reports, Hong Kong Airlines is considering cutting hundreds of jobs and grounding its fleet of Airbus A320s to focus on cargo operations for the time being.

Law Cheung-kwok, a senior adviser with Chinese University’s Aviation Policy and Research Centre, said the move was expected.

“The recovery of the aviation industry has been much slower than expected. Therefore in this case, the passengers will not return for at least a couple of years. It’s very unfortunate and as expected Hong Kong Airlines would be required to reduce its crew members further,” he said.

However, the aviation expert doesn’t believe the government needs to provide a financial rescue for the troubled airline yet, like it did for Cathay Pacific last year. He said it would be more prudent of the government to monitor the situation for now.

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific Airways said on Tuesday that the Hong Kong government has agreed to extend the drawdown period for a HK$7.8 billion loan facility by a year to June 2022, giving it more flexibility to manage liquidity.

The bridge loan was part of a HK$39 billion rescue package offered by local authorities to help the airline weather the coronavirus pandemic. (Additional reporting by Reuters)