Cathay Pacific urges staff to take unpaid leave as demand sags

February 05, 2020 16:12
Already reeling from the Hong Kong protests crisis, Cathay Pacific has suffered another, and perhaps bigger, blow due to the China coronavirus. Photo: Reuters

Cathay Pacific Airways has asked all its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave in coming months as it battles a fall in demand amid the China coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports.

On Tuesday, the carrier said it plans to cut about 30 percent of capacity over the next two months, including about 90 percent of flights to mainland China.

“Today, we are appealing to all employees to participate in the special leave scheme, which will take effect from 1 March and last until 30 June,” Cathay said in a statement on Wednesday.

"All employees will have the option to take three weeks of unpaid leave in this period.”

The leave is not mandatory, but is encouraged.

Jefferies analysts, in a note to clients, estimated that Cathay will report a loss in the first half of 2020 before returning to a profit in the second half, assuming traffic rebounds as it did with the 2003 SARS epidemic.

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