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Letter from the DFO

Fragrant Harbour A forum for the large number of pilots (expats and locals) based with the various airlines in Hong Kong. Air Traffic Controllers are also warmly welcomed into the forum.

Letter from the DFO

Old 16th Aug 2018, 04:33
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Letter from the DFO

Just finished reading the latest letter from the DFO over my early morning tea. Now, no appetite for breakfast...

My first question would be? Are we working for the same airline? Reading his comments, it would appear to be from the DFO of an airline that is not losing it's pilots, has everything under control and seems to think that years of mistreatment and abuse can be fixed in "two days". So obviously, this must be the DFO from a completely different airline than the one I work for.

The DFO talks about the AOA releasing a "positioning piece". Really? I would posit that it's the company that is guilty of YEARS of positioning pieces. In fact, I would say it's the company that is guilty of just about every violation of normal rules of conduct, in every area, in every year of my 25+ years of employment. Please, spare us the absurdity of blaming the AOA. It is abundantly clear to every one of us that the company is the one who is solely at fault in every area of concern. Yes, every area.

You talk about focusing on the future, not dwelling on the past. Well, of course you don't want to dwell on the past, mainly because it highlights just how abusive and destructive management have been to every area of our careers. To dwell on the past would require real answers to the volume of legitimate grievances that the pilots have, and before we can focus on the "future", you have to address and fix the violations and damage that has been committed in the past. None of us are willing to forgive and forget at this point. More pointedly, we remember and demand redress.

Back to turnover. On an annualized basis, we are probably getting close to 5% or higher. That is certain to increase. It will certainly increase if you and your management team insist on bench-marking CX pilots to HKA. Funny how you don't seem to want to benchmark us to your wholly owned subsidiary, Dragonair...curious. Further, a simple anecdotal review of what is actually being discussed on the flight decks will patently highlight how most of the expat pilots 45 or under are actively considering leaving. It is safe to say that if there is not a wholesale change of direction in the pay/benefits/lifestyle equation, the exodus will start to reach catastrophic numbers. Whether or not you want to acknowledge it, nearly every flight I and my colleagues operate has at least one, if not more pilots either applying elsewhere, interviewing elsewhere, awaiting a course date elsewhere. Another question: do our main competitors (BA/QF/LH/AF/DL/AA etc...) experience anywhere near that percentage of resignations? I seriously doubt it. In fact, almost NOBODY in those airlines resigns for reasons other than health related. So please, stop with the distortion of fact and truth (the thing you are accusing the AOA of). We can all SEE what is happening with our own eyes, and we all KNOW of many people who have left already, or are planning to do so.

Your comment regarding our "package" being above industry standard is laughable, when you are talking about people living in the most expensive city on earth. If it's so competitive, explain how my nephew with BA (25 yrs old ) has just purchased his own HOUSE in a suburb of London, and owns two cars, wife not having to work), and our pilots,being based in HK, see most of them not even able to afford to pay school debentures, much less find the money to make a downpayment on a 400 sq ft apartment in the outer reaches of HK? Stop with the distortion of fact. The current package is well below par, and certainly not sustainable on a career level. I repeat, the package is NOT sustainable on a career level. We ALL KNOW IT.

You go on to patronize us, talking about how "some pilots may choose to return to their home countries (like SA...?), and that the company "respects" (!) that decision". . Seriously, in the days where CX truly respected their pilots, NOBODY left. Either CX is or it is not a career airline. Under current management, it is NOT. Neither is HKA or HKE. They are happy to have pilots for a few years then replace them. Why don't you at least be honest and come out and admit the same about CX? Ironically, both HKA and HKE at least offer their pilots much more rapid commands, with the ability to then take that experience and transfer to a better employer. On that basis, they arguably offer a better overall package than CX.

I am particularly disappointed as to how you attempted to try and turn the local pilots against the AOA. The AOA did nothing of the sort that you allude to. What you have really attempted to do is use the "race card", and as in politics in general, is no less offensive here.

You say we all have a responsibility to end industrial action. Notice to Management: it will NOT end until we have ALL the outstanding issues suitably addressed and resolved. Not a day sooner, and not a penny less.


Last edited by Trafalgar; 16th Aug 2018 at 08:18.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 05:33
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Welcome back Traf,
I’m just surprised that the DFO actually managed to pen a letter . Like you however I disagree with the propaganda content
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 05:35
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Great post Trafalgar, I could barely believe what I was reading from the DFO.

When these course dates start rapidly appearing the DFO is going to have to adjust his attrition rates substantially upwards.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 06:04
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Well written, and totally agree.

If this is not resolved by the end of the year, I'll be gone. 12 years in and just waiting for my turn for command. I'd rather have a base, but then not even sure that is enough any more.

When I joined, this WAS a career airline. Now it's more like a flight school with an extended line training package.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 07:11
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Originally Posted by LGB
Well written, and totally agree.

If this is not resolved by the end of the year, I'll be gone. 12 years in and just waiting for my turn for command. I'd rather have a base, but then not even sure that is enough any more.

When I joined, this WAS a career airline. Now it's more like a flight school with an extended line training package.
I began my letter by stating that the DFO wrote as though he is the DFO of another airline. Thinking about it, he is acting like the Director of Training of many other airlines, as we are effectively a flight school training pilots for our competitors...
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 07:16
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Excellent post Trafalgar. You have eloquently hit on all the right points.

Unfortunately, it is all about supply and demand, and how that hand is played out by the AOA and CX management.

CX will not pay one penny more than is absolutely necessary to retain and attract pilots. While they think that they still have a greasy grip on your aspirations and loyalty by bluffing, outright lying or just plain bullying, there will be NO improvements to your package.

In fact, they will continue to erode your package for reasons of personal greed to qualify for their own bonuses. Base pay for CX senior managers and Directors is quite low. That provides the incentive for them to cast aside their moral compass (if they had one) and do whatever is necessary to gain said bonuses. If at the end of the year they don't qualify for a bonus, they are "promoted sideways" and replaced with someone who is even more ruthless. I have watched these scumbags for over 30 years and it has always been the same game that they play.

I say again, it is all about supply and demand...

This will not end until firm action is taken by way of strike action or as is eventually more likely, the pilot resignation rate becomes unmanageable.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 08:10
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I've been told in confidence by individuals at a very high level, that the resignation rate is already unmanageable. That is why the DFO lurched into making what has to be a laughable statement on the subject (me doth think he protests too much) as all of us operating regularly well know the reality of how many we are losing (and how many more they will soon lose...).

Further, CX is cancelling services and effectively shrinking the operation to cope. I suspect that the seniority list is smaller than it was at this time last year. Further evidence of the panic that is now setting into the airline is our fleet CP illegally stating when you can and can't call in unfit (note to CP: we can call in anytime we feel we are not fit to operate, effectively right up to pushing the TOGA buttons for takeoff!). It is telling that the newsletter in question has mysteriously been deleted from the links of available monthly newsletters. I suspect he has had a quiet word from the legal team.

All in all, the evidence is piling up that the wheels are coming off. All we have to do is sit on our hands and wait until they come to their senses. I am not so certain that they are capable of that however.

Last edited by Trafalgar; 16th Aug 2018 at 09:09.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 08:13
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Originally Posted by Frank W. Abagnale

the purpose of the DFO letter is not to give an addressing speech to his pilots.
You know the content of the letter is nonsense.
I know the content of it is nonsense.
Every CX pilot with a pulse should know that it is nonsense.
Anyone who had maths at school knows that his letter is nonsense:
130 lost pilots, which represent 3.5% of the pilot workforce would result in around 3.700 total pilots. Cathay has less than 3.300. Even massaging the numbers a little wouldn’t result in anything close to 3.300.

The letter was not written for us.
It was written for his superiors and for the public, hence the slight industrial tone of the letter.
It wouldn’t surprise me if this letter, or some of the content of it, would make it to the SCMP at some stage, to blame us pesky, greedy pilots for a collapse of the negotiation talks.

Cathay is not interested in coming on good terms with us and I doubt they ever will.

As you rightly said, anyone younger should draw the conclusions.
He's probably lumping in KA pilots into the stats too
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 08:49
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As has been mentioned before by me and others CX are waiting for the next down turn to fix all of their woes. They timed it right in 2008 and picked up Oasis at the same time to boot. Seems like this time however, the pilots are waking up and getting to the door before the crap hits the fan.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 08:51
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Has anyone else heard the rumor of a new contract in the offing for new joiners? A particularly odd rumour in the light of the looming pilot shortage world wide.
Is it possible that the aforementioned letter is an attempt at softening us up for such an event?
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 09:12
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Almost certainly their hope is that there is an economic downturn that will then allow them to impose even worse conditions. It is only a question of whether the pilot resignations outpace their ability to hold out for such conditions to occur (and what does it say about a management who wish for bad economic times?). Regardless, no matter how things play out at CX, it is no longer in question whether or not it is a viable career airline. It isn't, and never will be again.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 10:05
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Blame shifting, distraction, diversion, deflection etc. etc.
Whatever you may think, don't for one second believe he'll stick his neck out a millimetre more than the puppet masters dictate.
He didn't work so very long and hard gaining his nickname to risk it on impertinent pilots and risk "HIS" new "package"
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 10:15
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What is his benchmark rate for a DFO?
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 11:22
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Spleener , if you are talking salary and bonuses I believe that it’s about HK$12 million per annum . If anyone has more info I will happily stand corrected
but I can see an instant saving right there
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 13:51
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As an outsider I can't help but wonder if many of the comments made on this forum resemble comments made just before the original A Scale was introduced back in the day when CX was desperate for pilots???
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 13:53
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As far as attrition rate goes, I have been keeping it very simple. I started watching a certain DEFO on 15 April. They have moved forward 54 places in 4 months.
Over the year that equates to 162 people leaving. More like 5% rather than the DFO's quoted 3,5%. I suspect that they don't include the early "retirements" in the numbers.

If we ran an airline and not a circus most of the early retirees would have worked until 65.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:03
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Tiger, funnily enough i've been doing much the same, and came up with a very similar number to yourself. Basically, our management distort, obfuscate and outright lie. They have no moral compass, so therefore the ends justify the means. Internally they are panicking, and they are desperate to pretend that all is under control. The thing is, we, the ones who actually do the work in this airline know the facts, because we see it every day on the line, and personally know many individuals who have either already left, or are in the process of doing so. It would be comical if it wasn't so tragic. It's been a process of degradation over more than 20 years, and we are now reaching the end game. The current DFO is desperately trying to gather up his own little pot of gold before the train well and truly comes off the tracks. Can't stand the sight of any of our management, they are all in it for themselves. Nothing more. There is no career to be had at this airline, at least not one worth dedicating your life to. Time to Win...?, more like Time to Leave. Can hardly wait for the DFO's next letter. At least there is still some entertainment to be had here (and I second Traf's comments regarding the race baiting....appalling).
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:25
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I love how he ‘budgeted’ for that kind of turnover, so thankfully all of this was planned.
I wonder what the magic limit it to his ‘budget’.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:46
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On another floor in Fort Fumble, the scriptwriters must be in overtype late into the night, as the fuel hedge runs down and the oil price is trending toward USD100/bbl. It will be interesting to see what comes back from the editors.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 15:29
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I was taken aback by the tone of the DFOs email. Reading it made me feel like it was the 1990s all over again.

Given his stated YTD resignation rate of 3.5%, and given that we are only seven months into the year, projecting his stated resignation numbers to year end results is a resignation rate well over 5%...and that’s OK? According to his email the cost of replacing swathes of experienced pilots is not really that bad...it’s somehow a normal thing — a good thing — something that they have budgeted for. Anyone who has balanced a cheque book would squint at such a comment. Just from a cost standpoint alone, the loss of experienced pilots would be ringing alarm bells in any other legacy airline. According to the email, losing pilots with experience and replacing them with brand new zero time pilots, and a few low time pilots, makes financial good sense, and is something to trumpet and laud? Unbelievable.

And I totally agree with Traf regarding the DFOs salary benchmarking comment that somehow manages to ignore our sister airline at Dragon Air. The contractural 13th month at Dragon Air amounts to a 9% disparity in pay. But nothing to see here folks....move along.

All in all the tone of his email was reminiscent of past days when such missives were so detrimental to morale....while at the same time stating that he does not want to dwell on the past...it was a disorienting read.

The comment regarding the value of lost experience being easily mitigated by the recruitment of zero time, and low time pilots, was disturbing, to say the least. What other airline lauds the fact that low time pilots are replacing their experienced ones, while trumpeting cost and safety? As I said, a disorienting read.

All in all, the email was a call to ignore my lying eyes. Anyone with a pulse can see what is really happening. It should not have been written in such a tone...especially at this critical time when negotiations should be drawing to a close. Instead of a convincing pitch for the Company and pilots to come together I predict it will have the opposite effect and put off large numbers of pilots.

My goodness....

Last edited by raven11; 16th Aug 2018 at 15:58.
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