Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (國泰航空), Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, yesterday began pay talks with pilots who have voted for possible industrial action as they seek raises.
The discussions are expected to last five days, Carolyn Leung (梁月芳), a Cathay spokeswoman said by telephone on Sunday. She didn’t say how much the pilots were seeking.
The union wants raises of more than 30 percent over the next four years and they could take action that would disrupt flights over the Christmas period, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday. Union members last month voted to allow leaders to possibly recommend shunning overtime, while rejecting calls for such action to start on Dec. 1.
“It’s a cost increase that the airline should be able to absorb rather than having to face any possible disruptions,” said K. Ajith, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Research Pte in Singapore. “I would expect the airline to come to some compromise in the negotiations.”
Ajith expects the airline’s staffing costs to rise about 14.5 percent next year, he said. Last month, the carrier announced it will give Hong Kong-based staff annual pay raises averaging 4 percent and 4.5 percent. Staff will also receive a 13th month bonus payment and a profit-share pay-out.
Cathay’s incoming chief executive John Slosar said last Tuesday he was optimistic the airline would reach an agreement with the pilots.
“We are looking forward to constructive negotiations and a mutually acceptable agreement,” John Findlay, assistant general secretary of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, said yesterday by e-mail.