Cathay Pacific Airways today said it is formally asking the Labour Department to help mediate the dispute with its pilots union, the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers` Association (AOA). The airline also said it is preparing contingency plans in the event of an impasse and potential AOA industrial action.
The airline is meeting with the Labour Department this afternoon to update them on the current status of the negotiations on roster practices and to discuss mediation. The airline has been keeping the Labour Department informed throughout the negotiations.
Cathay Pacific`s Director Corporate Development Tony Tyler said: “We are making every effort to reach an agreement with the AOA. Our latest proposals far exceed their original demands. Some differences remain but these could, we believe, be satisfactorily resolved with the help of the Labour Department. Industrial action is not in anyone`s interest.”
Despite the ongoing negotiations, there have been further media reports of pilot threats to disrupt flights during Christmas and New Year. Already, the number of Cathay Pacific pilots reporting sick has risen by 30% within the past six months. The airline has been forced to cancel more than 20 flights so far this month due to pilot sickness. In most of these cases, two or three pilots rostered on a single flight have reported sick on the same day.
In response to these threats of an orchestrated sickness campaign, Cathay Pacific has begun preparing contingency plans for possible flight disruptions. Such contingency plans would aim to minimise the impact of possible disruptions on the travelling public. The airline`s preparations include considering the temporary suspension of some flights and increasing the number of pilots on reserve. No flights are being cancelled or changed at this time.
Cathay Pacific and the AOA are involved in prolonged negotiations on the subject of roster practices. Considerable progress has been made in many areas. The major issues outstanding are those relating to overtime pay and guaranteed work credits.
Mr Tyler said: “We are firmly committed to resolving the current differences through negotiations and hope the AOA would reconsider its earlier threat to disrupt flights during the holiday season. Bearing in mind the possibility of flight disruptions, we feel we must begin working on a range of contingency plans in the best interests of our passengers and Hong Kong.”