Cathay Pacific employees to take unpaid leave over virus scare


As Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to spread in China and around the world, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific, asked its 27,000 employees on Wednesday, February 05, to take three weeks of unpaid leave while the carrier struggles with plunging revenue due to the outbreak.

CEO Augustus Tang, addressing the employees in a video message, said the situation is as grave as the 2009 financial crisis, The South China Morning Post reported.

On Tuesday, Cathay announced a 90% reduction in flight capacity to mainland China, which has canceled group tours and told businesspeople to put off foreign travel while Beijing fights the outbreak centered on the city of Wuhan.

The airline also cut 30% of its worldwide capacity for two months.

Employees were asked to take “special leave” sometime between March 01 and June 30, a Cathay statement said.

“Preserving cash is the key to protecting our business,” the airline said.

The airline used similar “special leave” in 2009 and during the 2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which also led to cuts in flights.

“I am appealing to each and everyone one of you to help,” Tang was quoted as saying.

As of Thursday, February 06, more than 27,000 have been infected worldwide by the coronavirus with 564 confirmed deaths. (Source: Mainichi Japan)