LONDON – An important question to ask now is: After so much downturn, is Cathay Pacific finally on the rise once again, as they plan to hire 4,000 staff over the next two years?
The airline will be recruiting for a wide variety of roles, including 700 new pilots, of which 400 will fill the position of First Officer upon graduation from the cadet pilot training program.
In a statement, the airline said the following:
“Since the inception of our Cadet Pilot training program, Cathay Pacific has trained more than 1,000 cadet pilots from Hong Kong.”
“We look forward to welcoming candidates who will be starting the new cadet courses and becoming part of the Cathay Pacific team upon graduation”.
“Overall, we aim to train more than 1,000 cadet pilots by 2025. Conducting the majority of cadet-training activities in Hong Kong will ensure that the training regime is specifically suited to meet the needs of Cathay Pacific,”
Is Travel Demand On The Rise in Hong Kong? What About Labour Shortages?
The major recruitment drive that Cathay Pacific wants to embark on over the next few years signifies that travel demand is on the rise, and will continue to do so as Hong Kong tries to get out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst travel demand is slowly on the rise, this isn’t exactly the main driver for the recruitment drive. Dissatisfaction with Cathay Pacific as an employer is.
Greg Hughes, Cathay’s Chief Operations & Service Delivery Officer, explained more about the resignation rates:
“We still have resignation rates at much higher levels than we’ve historically had”.
Because of this, the airline has been considering improving the salaries and benefits that staff can have access to in order to take control of its labor turnover.
Travel demand is on the rise, but nowhere near pre-COVID levels at this point. In July, the airline handled 219,746 passengers, which is a 306.2% increase compared to July 2021.
However, this figure still represents a whopping 93.3% decrease compared to pre-pandemic levels. However, the 300+% increase does represent things are on the up.
What About COVID Restrictions?
Demand may be on the rise for Cathay Pacific because of the increased frustration & pressure from the electorate in Hong Kong about COVID-19 restrictions.
Many ex-pats have approached the media to discuss the city’s harsh response to tackling COVID-19.
On top of this, the Hong Kong Government is targeting a November conclusion to hotel quarantine, which will offer a massive push to tourist links in the region.
So, with that in mind, it does look like the government is slowly backing off from its draconian measures, which is something that will be much needed for the Hong Kong economy.
What About Route Network?
The airline hasn’t indicated much about the route network at this time, but the crux of the matter is that the airline will be wanting to restore services it had to cut due to COVID-19.
As more passengers continue to use Cathay Pacific, then we will see the gradual restoration of its pre-pandemic route network, before the airline makes any decision on new destinations.
As mentioned above about the labor turnover, Cathay Pacific does have to be careful with how quickly they restore their route network, as they are already tight on staff rosters.
For example, the airline sometimes operates night stops on its Hong Kong-Manchester rotation due to not having enough staff to operate the route, so pilots & cabin crew have to rest up as they would run out of hours otherwise.
What remains clear is that there is a path for Cathay Pacific to rise up again as one of the major players in Asia. However, they have to be careful with their approach.
The main priorities, for now, will be to tackle the labor shortage as fast as possible, so then they can restore their network as quickly as possible.
Another hope from the carrier is that the Hong Kong Government continues to press on with the reduction of draconian measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because, after all, we are far ahead out of the pandemic now that the country needs to reduce restrictions. However, with China lagging behind, too, it comes as no surprise that this is the case.