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How times have changed.

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.

How times have changed.

Old 9th Sep 2021, 15:01
  #81 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Here and Everywhere
Posts: 157
it’s only going to get worse…..I was advised the other day that they’re going to go for forced closed loop. You have the right to say no, but they’ll put you on SLV for the month(s) they can’t utilise you.

We’ll see how many people will be walking out the door, never to return if this happens. I, for one will be on a one way ticket back home
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 05:36
  #82 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: HKG
Posts: 301
Perhaps the stress of separation from family for some under closed loop will be too much and a doctor might recommended some extended sick leave.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 05:50
  #83 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Shh..
Posts: 73
I don't know about you, but watching those Instagram videos of 777 CNs being trained over on the jumbo... You can tell they didn't really fancy being interviewed.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 06:17
  #84 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Wan Chai
Posts: 230
That was a tense interview, clearly chuffed to be back there.
Looking down further you can see everyone is over his crap.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 06:43
  #85 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Hk
Posts: 46
They’re always super awkward, because Captain Superjet just can’t help himself dragging others into his weird obsession with recording.

Absolutely no way I’d allow him to film me.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 07:42
  #86 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Liquifaction Island
Age: 61
Posts: 149
All these numbers are just garbage, 321 courses canned with ex dragon getting DEFO A350.
Those going to 747, unless your in the top 25 the probability of getting off is almost zero.
You need to do 2 years after line check at least, you need 2 years 3 months before retirement you need a course to be available, you need that to match your seniority, Plus every time a current 747 cn leaves 1 more is locked in until death.
Cx still bleeding cash daily, freight is earning money but cx market share being taken by other carriers getting into cargo.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 15:02
  #87 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Shh..
Posts: 73
If you read the humourous take on "joining Qatar post-covid" thread on this forum, after having a giggle, you'd soon realise it sounds very familiar.....
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 15:37
  #88 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Shh..
Posts: 73
To digress a bit, from China Daily

"The plan supports HK enhancing its status as an international financial, trade and transportation hub, and proposes to bolster its role as an international aviation hub and innovation and technology center." Keen to know what plans to bolster HK's role as an international aviation hub within these 5 years. Some hope right there though! Stay positive!
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Old 11th Sep 2021, 04:54
  #89 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 647
I haven't heard any rumblings of a massive downsizing of the 777 fleet. It would make no sense anyway. Increasing our per unit cost by having LESS aircraft is just plain (plane? ;-) stupid.

If you look at past Annual reports (incl 2021 interim) you will see that we have been planning to return 21 leased 777ERs over several years. Originally we were supposed to be replacing them with 21 777-9 from 2021onwards but obviously that has been delayed (fortuitously). So we will be down 10-30% on 777 numbers for a year or three until we get those deliveries.

If you look at the increase in the 747 fleet I suspect that was partially to mitigate the complaints of over work prior to covid, desperation to ensure maximum pilot numbers to ensure maximum utilisation of freighter a/c, and maybe some foresight that based 747 pilots might be leaving our company. So an increase in around 130 in Hong Kong would be offset by many leaving from bases. And there is much anecdotal evidence that many are happy to go to the 747 to get the type rating (and get current) before leaving for greener pastures over the next year or two.

Currently it makes sense to 'rob Peter to pay Paul' with Peter obviously being the 777. But as I have indicated over several posts, we are going to be MASSIVELY short of pilots if we keep all the aircraft in a post lockdown world.

If it made sense to fire 100s if not 1000s they would have done so. They know enough to know that it takes a long time to grow your numbers. So a cheaper way to do it if you have enough work for 50% is to pay everyone 50% so that you keep the total number constant and yet pay 50% of your original salary bill.

Fear is the issue.
As FDR said - "you have nothing to fear but fear itself". Waiting outside the principal's office, or the dentist waiting room, is far more stressful than what occurs inside.

(note - good job with the current stats Posterizing)
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Old 11th Sep 2021, 07:40
  #90 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: On a few nerves apparently
Posts: 87
What would have made sense was to right-size the manpower to approximately match the amount of work that was left for the business. This is what every other airline has done, in this downturn and others in the past when the downturn proves to be longer than short term. It makes no sense to bleed cash in form of paying salaries to staff staying at home for OVER 1.5 years after it had become very apparent this was not going away soon. Before someone says "oh but jobs saved" It's a business after all, not a charity. They've shortened the survival ability of the business having made the decision they made. With the number of pilots leaving cathay at an average of 8 per month pre-covid and now 40 a month, let's look at exacrly who is leaving. The very junior crew with little or no experience have nowhere to go. Nobody will hire them anytime soon. The very senior with 5 or less years left to retire likely won't leave because they hope to be able to stretch it out until retirement without taking a big dip in earnings during the last years of their career. Those who fall between these two groups will be the first ones to get jobs elsewhere and go. The very segment who will be in line to be the captains and senior FOs of a year or two from now. The ones who will be carrying the bulk of operational expertise... oh except they will also be the first ones to leave when the hiring starts! So who exactly are they expecting to keep this operation going... with any efficiency OR without the occasional hull loss?! The very ones they need are the same who are already in process of exodus, some are even forced to via base closures. The exodus will become bigger as market picks up.cathay already has absolutely no hope of training even 40 a month to replace or maintain the crew numbers even if they can attract and hire with whatever CoS they offer and to whom. They've never had the training capacity to train that many, even when hiring direct entry. Whatever amount they can train and put on the line will be constantly going thru the revolving door anyway requiring to replace even those. Exactly the most valuable crew they need to keep are the ones leaving already. Keeping all the crew and cutting their pay & benefits to half and thinking "we've had out cake and eaten it too" will prove to be a major mistake. When what you're doing is the opposite of what everyone else is doing something and you decide to do the opposite, that should be the big clue you're making a mistake.
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Old 11th Sep 2021, 08:47
  #91 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: In the Auzzie outback
Posts: 133
Cathay will be the Atlas of asia.
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Old 11th Sep 2021, 11:57
  #92 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: AUS
Posts: 14
All of the above simply states that we have zero need for any 777 SO’s for the next 5+ years.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens there as they’ve already moved 10 locals/PR to the 320 from the 777 out of seniority. This clearly to appease IMMD.

The 747 is also short on SO’s but CAD are refusing to approve a quick conversion for 777 SOs.

Have a look at dispatch next time and you’ll notice that IMMD are also having a say on which crews are being re-activated and flying!

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Old 11th Sep 2021, 12:40
  #93 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 23
Numero Crunchero

I do have another take on this point, not sure about how true it may be as it involves some assumptions.

I was thinking about comparing the costs of leasing/financing a 777 that is just sitting, and the costs of paying the salaries of the respective crew compliment who are also just sitting. The assumption is that the costs would be very similar, or simlar enough that considering aircraft can always just be purchased back as they would just be sitting (assumption), and can be returned at a faster rate compared to hiring and training crew (assumption), added with the fact that dismissed crew/ new hires can decide to not join when the company demand picks up (they probably know their package is not as attractive as before), it may be the easier and more predictable route to cut aircraft rather than crew.
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 04:19
  #94 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Liquifaction Island
Age: 61
Posts: 149
”If you look at the increase in the 747 fleet I suspect that was partially to mitigate the complaints of over work prior to covid, desperation to ensure maximum pilot numbers to ensure maximum utilisation of freighter a/c, and maybe some foresight that based 747 pilots might be leaving our company. So an increase in around 130 in Hong Kong would be offset by many leaving from bases. And there is much anecdotal evidence that many are happy to go to the 747 to get the type rating (and get current) before leaving for greener pastures over the next year or two.”

Your suspicions about the 747 are off the mark, The 747 crew were not overworked in regards to hours flown, simply the lack of hours compared to days away, hence the lower hour thresholds in pay. Since the end of pax flights a continual departure of crew through age and finally fed up with it. Current
multiple 747 bases closed with predominantly CNs going. More 747 captains reach retirement next year. There was no foresight about based pilots leaving, the majority were staying, unless you missed it the company implemented base closure.
So I will reiterate if you push 60-80 CNs out then you replace, so since the inefficient 777 is parked and there is no pax market for cx for the next 3-5 years, 777 pilots will be transferred permanently.If many are unable to grasp the global market has changed for several years to come, your in the wrong business. They have just cancelled A321 courses and reallocated DEFO to A350, so the full Directors meeting on 8-8-2021 slid by with little comment and the latest operating plan is out, however it hasn’t trickled down to the Chief pilot level yet as they aren’t high enough on the food chain to know yet. Another example of the inept historical silo management that permeates year after year with endless cluster f___s. However I digress they are probably fully occupied with the event in Beijing and the political fallout that might bring. Monday will be busy.
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 08:13
  #95 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 647
v for vendetta
I would argue that MOST airlines have not right sized. BA ended up making redundant I think about 30-50 out of how many pilots? (3000+?)
QF ended up getting enough voluntary redundancies and LWOP takers to not let go of any. Yes they have also massively reduced their wage bill but point is minimal reduction in manpower
Delta - similar - voluntary early retirements/redundancies were enough - then they became short of pilots based on the plan a few months ago - I am sure Delta (covid) has dented Delta's (airline) plans.
On the other side - yes EK and QR (and others) have downsized iaw manning expectations.

As you point out- CX just cannot train enough fast enough. Assuming no one leaves before RA55/65 it will take 4-5 years to recover full manning. And that assumption is a very poor one clearly - I have never seen morale so low - and that is saying a lot after 94/99/49ers/ etc etc. We are going to lose a lot of pilots before their RA. So yes I think we are going to be short of pilots for god knows how long. Of course that will be hidden by a lesser schedule - maybe disposing of some a/c - that sort of thing.

Cat Lady
On what basis do you say no need for 777 SOs for next 5 years? If we dont massively shrink the airline we will need 600+ commands - close to a 1000 upgrades to FO(and DEFOs) and SO time should reduce towards 2-3 years.

Interesting thought. Problems I see - selling a/c in the middle of covid is the worst possible time. By the time you choose to buy it prices will have more than recovered for used a/c. Back of the fag packet calculation (and I am literally doing this as I type so apologies for any errors) - let's say a 777 was bought for $240m US - depreciated straight line for 24 years - so $10M US per year (leasing costs would be similar but we own most of our 777s). Utilisation was around 16 hrs per day pre 2019(protests)- assuming 4 crew per hour (all LRO or ULRO) and assuming crew average 700hrs per year( as they did a few years ago) we get - 365*16/700 = 8.3 crews or 34 pilots. Say 9 CNs, 9 SOs and 16 FOs. On Hong Kong salaries/HKPA/PF that would be around $38M HKD per year - so less than $5m USD. So mathematically speaking, cheaper to keep the crew NOT working and living in HK than selling the a/c and letting the pilots go. And obviously I have ignored redundancies/training and recruitment costs to replace the crew.

I should have been clearer. No they were not 'hours limited' over worked. They were G day limited - time away from home excessive etc. That was the message made loud and clear to the GC/negotiation reps/JRC etc over the years. So CX took advantage and ramped up the numbers. Now - if there were too many pilots then I wouldn't keep hearing about how many guys/gals are doubling their salaries because they are flying over 70hrs per month.
And CX knew that cargo was the only revenue source so they ramped up numbers of pilots to ensure they were airframe limited, not aircrew limited.
And in terms of bases closing - you really believe they didn't know a year ago that bases would be closed? The only thing they wouldn't have known was how many would come off the base and back to HK. I think for Oz base it is like 30 returning vs 150 that were on the base?

Anyway - all fun stuff predicting the future with the state of flux we live in;-)
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 09:18
  #96 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Here
Posts: 343
Numero, not quite correct, BA put 250 pilots in the PRP (priority return pool)
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 09:58
  #97 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Liquifaction Island
Age: 61
Posts: 149

Your statements just prove your not on the 747, most crews are certainly not doing 70+ hours, a few are but certainly not the majority. At no time I stated I believed they they made the decision to close bases recently, Probably more like the 49ers planning which was planned 2 years prior, and that is a statement by a (sw)manager in a HKU paper available online for a dissertation on employment practises.They had to go through the legal motions one step at a time. Ironically once complete lots of staff who manage based staff won’t be needed. Cannibalism at its best. It most likely stretches back to the previous GMAs beginnings, the current one just yielding the sword.

More likely crewing is to replace the departures and reduce salaries as the monthly hours are being paired back in general even as one of the cargo peaks arrives. With the new min pay its better to be able to deal with the waves and troughs of freight. Once all the staff cuts are done and a good portion of conversions completed some new monthly hour targets may be popped in on a good friday at 6pm.

Enjoy your quarantine and bus looping.
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 11:49
  #98 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: On a few nerves apparently
Posts: 87
Dear Numero,

BA. As you see below in the Reuters piece, BA did a very different thing than cathay. They sat down, talked, negotiated with the pilots union before announcing a "temporary" 20% paycut. And the number of jobs cut were 200, not 30-50. Cathay arbitrarily voided the contract and cut everyone's pay and benefits by 50%... PERMANENTLY.

-----(Reuters) - British Airways pilots have accepted a deal that will temporarily cut pay by 20% and eliminate more than 200 jobs, the pilots' union said on Friday.

"The deal means that there will be temporary 20% pay cuts reducing to 8% over two years and towards zero over the longer term", British Airline Pilots Association said in a statement.

"Regrettably, there will still be some compulsory redundancies which are currently estimated to be 270 although that number will fall as mitigations take effect", the statement added.-----


Quantas. Qantas has had up to 20,000 people "stood down" for a long time now and they just announced another 2500 to be added to the number they have "stood down" now. Stood down means go home without pay until we need you again. In the US it's called lay off, others call it redundancy. Standdowns are not voluntary. Again, something very different than cathay has done. Pure manpower downsizing in fact. This article mentions it specifically as "thousands of pilots and cabin crew". I couldn't find the actual numbers. But I don't know where you got the information you put on here saying "QF ended up getting enough voluntary redundancies and LWOP takers to not let go of any. Yes they have also massively reduced their wage bill but point is minimal reduction in manpower"

The following article is from Barron's on Qantas. They do a very good job of aviation business coverage.

Exerpt from the article link below:

" In addition to thousands of pilots and cabin crew being stood down or made redundant in 2020, Qantas recently announced 2,500 more would be stood down in response to the latest outbreak."


Delta. The US airlines' business situation was a hiccup compared to cathay's, quantas or BA's choking. The flying came back in a much shorter time and for a while now the airports are jammed, flights are full, and they've been hiring pilots at full speed at places that didn't cut much flying or staff (using the massive bailout cash government gave them to cover losses). Yes some US airlines offered generous early retirement packages (that make cathay's offers laughable) and yes a couple of them like American and delta over-did it as a result, are severly undermanned now and in full speed hiring mode. 1200 or more a year. So again, the air travel business in the US was not as badly affected as it has been elsewhere. Even if they had done lay offs, they would have called them all back a long time ago.

Also yes disposing aircraft which aren't able to be utilized same as any other asset not able to be utilized and is costing money in lease payments, upkeep and maintenance etc is a big part of downsizing. BUT, it takes a lot more time to get rid of those assets compared to getting rid of human assets. Unfortunately the law appears to protect the business interests of the lessers of those aircraft more the the livelihoods of the human assets. Not so easy to get out of most of those leases so easily or quickly without bankruptcy intervention. Cathay couldn't just announce "give us a 50% discount on all these aircraft or we fire them in 2 weeks" like they did to their pilot people. That is the difference. Which makes getting rid of aircraft not a quick solution to stopping cash bleed. Thats why it isn't done in appreciable numbers, yet. Ideally of course ALL assets should be cut according to the current and short term need projections. Even moving to a smaller headquarters building IF projections show it will make a big enough impact on long term survival of the business.

Dear all:

It takes much more than numbers to understand and predict ANYTHING, but especially in the airline business. This is why an airline can't be run properly by non-airline managers otherwise known as accountants. Just like how you say something can have a very different impact, how you do something can also have very different impacts. In how the people you're saying it to or doing it to perceive it. Doing so in the manner cathay has done so utterly crudely (and is continuing to make worse every day by coming up with new ways to drain blood out of it's pilots) has taken away any employer credibility they might have had prior to this. They've cut their own throat just because they could. Can an accountant calculate how much money it costs to have employees with such low morale come to work every day? I've seen first hand in 7 different airlines and 30 years how good morale brings millions in money savings and bad morale costs millions. (Nevermind the hull loss or two in cathay's future) It will never be tracable on paper. But each of us who know how the job is done can easily see it in real-time day to day operations. But the board of directors and all their minion accountant managers have no idea, unless they've spent their career in "airline management" AND have proven to be from the small percentage of management experts who can succeed in airline management. Cathay has exactly zero number of this type individual within it.

What works and what fails has already been proven through many downturns and uptands for decades. It's the stupid who insist on learning from their own mistakes and not from other people's mistakes. Thinking you're smarter than others is a good sign you're the stupid one.

Last edited by VforVENDETTA; 12th Sep 2021 at 12:08.
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 12:03
  #99 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: all over
Posts: 135

What is the reason for the change from A321 to A350?
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Old 12th Sep 2021, 15:39
  #100 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Cesspit
Posts: 346

The level of debate you raise this forum to is commendable and refreshing. Logic is hard to argue against, but argue I will. Your argument of what management may do moving forward is based on what you’d do, not based on how the company has acted historically.

Would you have;

Formed ASL?
Sacked 49 pilots for no reason then told the world why you sacked them?
Run an illegal Paris base then amateurishly shut it down?
Hired Adelaide instructors under an agreement then reneged after they’d done all the hard work?
Lost billions on fuel hedging, hold a press conference to inform investors in the future you’d hedge less and purchase stop loss insurance, then within years hedge more with no stop loss?
Participated in an illegal freight cartel?
Been in an industrial dispute for years with the unions leading to the training ban over what was essentially an argument over one flight to London being 3 crew or 4 crew?
Used a downturn to opportunistically tear up legacy contracts? (In fact on these very forums 12 months ago you argued management would tinker with amendable policies such as ARAPA rather than enforce contractual changes.)
Close all the bases within 2 years of the long awaited basings review being completed by the previous GMA and current DFO concluding that basings were an integral and vital part of the company’s future?

This list could go for pages. The point being, when is the last time management have acted as you’d have acted? It’s like being married to a completely irrational partner for 30 years then assuming tomorrow he/she will act rationally because that’s how you’d act.
That in itself is completely irrational.

All companies inevitably collapse, it’s just a matter of when. Are we witnessing a temporary downturn, a steady decline or a rapid collapse? A few years ago the HKAOA bought in an expert aviation consultant to look at the company’s past and present performance to predict how profitable the future would be. Needless to say he didn’t purchase any company shares as he left. This was pre-Covid. I suspect he’s still not buying.

Last edited by Progress Wanchai; 12th Sep 2021 at 15:54.
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