By Jamie Freed
- One of Asia's largest airlines, Cathay Pacific, is facing a revolt from pilots who say Hong Kong's tough quarantine rules under its zero-COVID policies are endangering their mental health, leading to rising stress and resignations.
Cathay Pacific Airways (OTC:CPCAY) Ltd last week fired https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/cathay-pacific-fires-3-pilots-infected-with-covid-19-layover-scmp-2021-11-18 three pilots who breached company rules by leaving their hotel rooms during a layover in Frankfurt and later tested positive for COVID-19.
The government responded by forcing more than 270 people, including school children linked to their families, into tiny quarters at a state quarantine camp https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-hongkong-families-idUSKBN2B711T.
Some pilots declared themselves unfit to fly https://www.instagram.com/p/CWr6BPRh8N9 for their first rostered duties upon release.
The extreme example of pandemic-related precautions under China's zero-COVID policy highlights the difficult working conditions facing Cathay pilots, all fully vaccinated, even as other Asian countries slowly reopen.
Cathay rivals including Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd have begun unwinding strict layover policies but the Hong Kong government is tightening rules further in line with the mainland, hoping to convince Beijing to allow cross-border travel.
"I don't think I can keep this up," one Cathay pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters. "Just the stress of potential quarantine of my family and friends is taking a toll."
Several other current and recently departed Cathay pilots told Reuters morale was low and resignations were rising a year after many had their pay permanently cut https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cathay-pacific-layoffs-idUSKBN2780L0 by as much as 58%.
Extreme stress is a significant issue in an industry where any sign of psychological problems can...