Hong Kong’s main airline Cathay Pacific (國泰航空) said yesterday it had been swamped with more than 1,600 requests for unpaid leave next year from cabin crew and pilots.
The airline said it had received requests for more than 55,000 days off after making the controversial offer at the end of last month of non-salaried time off to combat the economic downturn.
Cabin crew have applied for a total of more than 50,000 days of unpaid leave next year — almost a full week for every flight attendant — while pilots had applied for more than 5,000 days.
The applications come from 1,062 flight attendants, some of who have made more than one application, and 200 pilots.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said all the pilots’ requests would be honored while some of the airline’s 7,200 cabin crew would be asked to adjust their requests because of too much demand.
The Flight Attendants Union, which represents more than 5,000 cabin crew, said demand for unpaid leave showed many flight attendants were unable to get the time off they wanted through regular leave.
The union — which distributed a circular to members outlining 10 reasons not to apply for unpaid leave — warned that colleagues of flight attendants who take unpaid leave would be left with an even heavier workload.
The Cathay spokeswoman insisted the scheme was “entirely voluntary” and said flight attendants’ regular leave had been allocated for next year before unpaid leave offer was made.