Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific has revealed its plans to reduce approximately 8,500 positions or around 24% of its established headcount. 

The decision is part of the carrier’s restructuring plan in response to the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation market.

Through freezing recruitment and natural attrition, Cathay Pacific could reduce 5,900 actual jobs or 17% of its established headcount.

Its plan implies that around 5,300 Hong Kong-based jobs are being made redundant while approximately 600 employees based outside of Hong Kong are also expected to be affected subject to local regulatory requirements.

As part of this restructuring plan, Cathay Pacific’s regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon will cease operations with immediate effect.

The group is planning to seek regulatory approval for a majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes to be operated by Cathay Pacific and HK Express, which is a completely owned subsidiary.

Cathay Pacific chief executive officer Augustus Tang said: “The global pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on aviation and the hard truth is we must fundamentally restructure the group to survive. We have to do this to protect as many jobs as possible, and meet our responsibilities to the Hong Kong aviation hub and our customers.

“Our immediate priority is to support those affected by today’s announcement. We are deeply saddened to part ways with our talented and respected colleagues, and I want to thank them for their hard work, achievements and dedication.”

Hong Kong-based cabin and cockpit crew members will be urged to agree to changes in their conditions of service.

It also announced that executive pay cuts will continue throughout next year, and a third voluntary Special Leave Scheme for non-flying employees will be rolled out for the first half of next year.

Employee salaries will not be increased for next year, the company added.

In July, Cathay Pacific reportedly entered an agreement with manufacturer Airbus to defer the deliveries of A350s and A321neo aircraft following the impact of the pandemic.