Today the pilots` union leadership announced they would proceed with industrial action against the company. This is regrettable. As we have stated before, productive negotiations are impossible as long as the threat of disruption remains in place.
Our position is simple and firm. There is a generous and comprehensive agreement before the AOA leadership that provides for significant improvements in pay, benefits and rosters. It is the HKAOA leadership`s choice whether or not to accept this deal. This proposal will remain on the table through tomorrow 30 June.
Furthermore, any agreement entered by the company with the AOA must include a firm commitment to avert any future industrial action through the four-year term of the agreement.
Rather than negotiate over substantive issues, the AOA has made a sideshow of the data request. The data request is a ploy, a diversionary gimmick. During the negotiations, the AOA has never presented a meaningful counterproposal. This call for data is just the latest excuse to walk away from the talks.
The data is just the means to an end. The difference between the two sides on the topic of overtime is not about the data, it is a fundamental difference of principle. To explain it by way of an example, imagine someone is contracted to work a five-day week. Then for whatever reason your manager allows you to take most Fridays off. If at some later date, your manager asks you to work a full Friday, is it reasonable to expect to be paid overtime for working that Friday? Of course not. This is the fundamental difference that no amount of data will change.
Giving the AOA the data will not bring us any closer to an agreement. What is more important is to focus on the real issue at hand. We have a comprehensive proposal on the table that offers meaningful improvements in the areas of pay and benefits and roster stability.
I would like to again say an important word to our passengers and the people of Hong Kong. The AOA leadership has kept its Hong Kong disruption plan secret so it is difficult to predict the impact. Like a typhoon, it will be impossible to predict the timing or severity of the disruptions. But unlike a typhoon, these disruptions will be entirely manmade - by the leadership of the union.
As we have in the past, we will move heaven and earth to keep our passengers moving. We are prepared to charter aircraft and rebook passengers on other aircraft. For the moment, we will continue to operate normally and will take bookings on future flights. We encourage passengers to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport using our Website or our telephone hotlines. We will provide ongoing updates on flight status via the media as well.
In closing, the AOA leadership`s decision to commence industrial action is regrettable. We are committed to rewarding our pilots fairly. This proposal does just that, while averting disruption now and into the future. We hope the AOA leadership will act responsibly and bear in mind the best interests of Hong Kong, the airline, and its own members.