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Cathay Pacific asks staff to take unpaid leave over coronavirus

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

“Preserving our cash is now the key to protecting our business.”

Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has appealed to staff to take unpaid leave as the coronavirus crisis weighs heavily on the company's bottom line.

In a video to staff, Cathay Pacific's CEO Augustus Tang Kin-wing announced a "special unpaid leave scheme" for the airline's 27,000 staff.

As part of the scheme, from the 1st of March until June 30th employees will have the option to take three weeks of unpaid leave.

The airline confirmed to that the scheme is voluntary.

"In view of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and also significant drop in market demand, we just announced massive capacity cuts yesterday," the airline said in a statement.

Preserving cash is the key to protecting our business. We have already been taking multiple measures to achieve this."

Mr Tang acknowledged the scheme was not a measure the airline wanted to take.

"I realise this is difficult to hear," Mr Tang said in a message to staff.

"But by supporting the special leave scheme you will be helping at our time of need.

"I cannot stress enough how vital your dedication and support is."

The message comes days after Cathay Pacific said it has been forced to cut 90 per cent of its flights to mainland china over the next two months.

Globally, the airline is cutting its capacity by 30 percent to keep the business operating profitably in the face of low passenger numbers and restricted air routes.

"The events of the past few weeks and months are having a significant impact on us," Mr Tang told staff.

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"With the coronavirus outbreak we are now seeing a large decline in the number of visitors to and through Hong Kong, Mainland China and many other countries around the world."

The last time Cathay Pacific Airways introduced an unpaid leave scheme was in 2009, following the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.

Mr Tang said this time was "just as grave".

"We are asking suppliers for price reductions, implementing hiring freezes, postponing major projects and stopping all non-critical spend," said Mr Tang.

"We expect cuts to extend to other parts of our network as well."

Source: 9News

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