Shut in Lodges: Hong Kong’s COVID-19 rules have a mental influence on Cathay pilots

Cathay Pacific planes are parked on the runway at Hong Kong Worldwide Airport, Hong Kong, China Oct 24, 2020. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu / File Photo

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  • 3 pilots sacked final 7 days for leaving their lodge place through a layover
  • Hong Kong which maintains a demanding zero-COVID coverage
  • Pilot resignations have greater in modern months – Cathay

Nov 26 (Reuters) – Just one of Asia’s premier airlines, Cathay Pacific, is going through an uprising from pilots who say Hong Kong’s tricky quarantine regulations as portion of its zero-COVID guidelines are endangering their psychological overall health, primary to increased tension and discharge.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) final week fired 3 pilots who violated company guidelines by leaving their resort rooms while on a layover in Frankfurt and later examined positive for COVID-19.

The governing administration responded by forcing more than 270 men and women, together with schoolchildren connected to their families, into very small accommodations in a point out quarantine camp.

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Some pilots have declared on their own unfit to fly for their 1st tenure on launch.

The excessive instance of pandemic-related safety measures beneath China’s zero-COVID policy highlights the challenging operating ailments faced by completely vaccinated Cathay pilots, even as other Asian nations around the world gradually reopen.

Cathay’s rivals, which includes Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX), have begun to streamline rigid stopover policies, but the Hong Kong government is tightening principles even further in line with the mainland, hoping to persuade Beijing to enable cross-border journey.

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“I never think I can keep on like this,” a Cathay pilot who spoke on ailment of anonymity informed Reuters. “Only the strain of the potential quarantine of my loved ones and friends is using a toll.”

Numerous other current and just lately deceased Cathay pilots advised Reuters morale was reduced and resignations have been rising a yr soon after many had their pay completely slashed by as much as 58 per cent.

Serious stress is a important difficulty in an marketplace exactly where any indications of psychological challenges can make it tricky to uncover a different occupation.

“What is the threat if I inform them I am a minimal stressed out?” questioned a pilot who has spent much more than 200 evenings locked in resort rooms far from Hong Kong due to the fact the start off of the pandemic. “Does this have an effect on my health care remedy? And then you wander out of here and they inquire you if you’ve got at any time been fired for psychological good reasons?”

The pilots also expressed annoyance at the ambiguity of some federal government-imposed pandemic-relevant regulations. Pilots, for case in point, are essential to prevent “pointless social contacts” for three months following returning to Hong Kong, but are not given cost-free time to compensate.

Cathay acknowledged to Reuters in a assertion that pilot resignations have elevated earlier mentioned ordinary degrees due to the fact late Oct.

“Sad to say, the Frankfurt crash impacted present sentiment,” the airline explained.


Hong Kong classifies many places together with the US and Britain as “superior possibility”, that means that Cathay pilots flying travellers arriving from people spots are subject to a two-week quarantine at the hotel.

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To employees those flights, Cathay started running “closed-loop” shifts on a voluntary foundation in February that concerned 5 consecutive weeks locked up in lodge rooms with no entry to clean air or a gymnasium and then two weeks off at house. .

“I did it to receive some money, considering that the 50% wage cut (very last year) made existence a great deal a lot more hard,” explained a just lately deceased driver who did two shut circuits. . “There are people today presently in their fifth or sixth closed cycle.”

Cathay said Thursday that some flights arriving in the course of December’s peak desire period would be canceled, indicating a absence of volunteers.

The airline reported it regarded the strain on its pilots and held bi-weekly mobile phone obtain sessions to share concerns and plans this sort of as a peer-based pilot aid network, as very well as supplying prolonged go away.


As disorders improve in other areas of the planet, other airways which includes Emirates and US cargo company Atlas Air Globally Holdings Inc (AAWW.O) are searching down Cathay pilots, people who spoke to Reuters stated.

Emirates, which has released a recruiting campaign for 600 pilots, declined to remark. Atlas did not respond to a ask for for remark.

Pilots Reuters spoke to explained they assume additional resignations up coming yr when housing and faculty subsidies expire.

Cathay stated it will use “several hundred” of new pilots and restart its cadet plan more than the future 12 months.

Hong Kong’s demanding policies led FedEx Corp (FDX.N) to close its pilot base in the city past week, underscoring the territory’s darkish attraction as a important logistics hub.

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“I genuinely, genuinely experience for the people who are at Cathay,” mentioned a FedEx pilot who not long ago still left Hong Kong. “I am truly worried about their psychological health and fitness and how they are performing.”

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Jamie Freed’s reporting in Sydney Modifying by Miyoung Kim and Stephen Coates

Our Requirements: Thomson Reuters Rely on Ideas.

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