As Hong Kong celebrates its 25th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom (and enslavement to the People’s Republic of China), Cathay Pacific announced its intention to go on a hiring spree. Sadly, this strikes me as about as likely as universal suffrage in the special administrative region.
Optimistic Cathay Pacific Hopes To Hire 8,000
Cathay Pacific CEO Kin Wing “Augustus” Tang has revealed plans to hire 4,000 new staff members by the end of 2023 as part of Cathay Pacific’s plan to hire 8,000 workers in the larger Cathay Pacific Group (which includes airport handling, cargo, and catering staff). Tang told the South China Morning Post that his airline is “very much in a growth mode and growth mentality.”
That plan includes:
- 700 pilots
- 2,000 cabin crew
- 1,300 airport and call center staff
Tang explained, “This is our commitment to Hong Kong and making sure that the Hong Kong aviation hub will be ready and will be competitive and remain a key aviation hub in the world.”
Tang expects demand to come roaring back within three months of Chinese authorities lifting mandatory quarantine rules (which are currently seven days for visitors and most returning residents).
But is that even realistic? Cathay Pacific is currently running at 4% of its passenger capacity compared to before the pandemic. Cargo, which is a rare bright spot for the carrier, is still only running at 34% of pre-pandemic capacity.
Perhaps more so than any other carrier, Cathay Pacific has been battered during the pandemic by restrictive governmental polices that have all but decimated travel to Hong Kong. Even before the pandemic, the Mainland’s brutal crackdown on reform movements discouraged travel to and business in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Basic Law, which promises freedom of assembly and speech as well as an independent judiciary and a capitalist system (for 50 years) has been largely marginalized. Instead, the controversial 2020 “National Security Law” is now used as justification to squelch dissent in the once vibrant city.
“One country, two systems” may be the tagline, but Cathay Pacific finds itself squeezed between a city still mismanaging COVID-19 and a country set on destroying the very freedoms that give Cathay Pacific any hope of success in the first place.
That may be a draconian take on this situation, but let’s not forget Cathay Pacific laid off 5,900 workers at the start of the pandemic followed by 2,500 more in 2021. Meanwhile, Hong Kong lost 93,000 residents in 2020 and 23,000 in 2021. While I don’t count out Hong Kong, I do sadly see the glory days as having passed.
As a final word, let me express hope that I am wrong. Not for my sake, but for the people of Cathay Pacific. And for the people of Hong Kong.