Cathay Pacific crew fired after refusing to get vaccinated

In what could be a global first, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has fired an unspecified number of crew after they refused Covid-19 vaccines. The carrier has defended the sacking of air crew who it says refused available vaccines without providing any medical justification, adding that it can’t operate without its crew being vaccinated.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on us operationally, and border controls around the world have dramatically reduced our ability to operate with unvaccinated aircrew.”

According to a TTR Weekly report, the carrier has been operating flights with fully vaccinated crew since September 1. It had previously requested that all crew be fully vaccinated by the end of August or risk having their positions reviewed.

Cathay Pacific has also confirmed it has closed its pilot centre in London, offering affected pilots the option to transfer to Hong Kong or take redundancy. It’s understood the airline is now reviewing its pilot bases in the US as a result of the financial hit of Covid-19. It has already closed bases in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany.

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Earlier this year, the carrier decided to focus on Hong Kong, where pilots have agreed to salary cuts in return for being kept on. It’s estimated the airline lost around HK$21.6 billion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific has responded to news that a new airline has applied to operate out of Hong Kong by filing a complaint with the Hong Kong Air Transport Licensing Authority. The Chinese carrier, Greater Bay Area Airline, recently made the application to operate services from Hong Kong to Southeast Asia and China, but Cathay Pacific is urging the licensing authority to consider the challenges already faced by local airlines before approving such applications.


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Maya Taylor

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