Cathay Pacific Airways has come under fire over a planned scheme to cut the number of pilots on flights between Europe and Hong Kong, which the workers’ union said could reduce the resting time of pilots and endanger passenger safety.

According to a report by local newspaper The Sun, Cathay plans to roll out the pilot scheme at the beginning of next year for one season. One flight between Hong Kong and an European city will be chosen for the programme and the number of pilots on the flight will be reduced from four to three.

Cathay Pacific aircrafts. Photo: Michael Rehfeldt via Flickr.

This will increase the workload for each pilot and cause possible fatigue, the report cited an unnamed Cathay pilot as saying.  The pilots union held talks with Cathay management but no consensus was reached, the report said.

HKFP has reached out to Cathay Pacific for comment.

Update at 17:17pm: In an email reply to HKFP, Cathay Pacific said only a small number of its long-haul European flights would be operated 3-pilot crew. The scheme will be tested early next year on two flights between London and Hong Kong. The carrier said its practice is “fully compliant with international civil aviation regulations” and it will continue to put passenger safety first.


Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.