Cathay to close Vancouver crew base

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 departs Vancouver International Airport in July 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Cathay Pacific is set to close its last Canadian crew base within months.

The airline will close its Vancouver crew base in June, putting 147 jobs at risk. Cathay flies daily between Vancouver and Hong Kong, in addition to a Toronto-Hong Kong flight.

“As part of our ongoing business review, we have made the decision to close down our Vancouver cabin crew base,” the airline said in an email to Western Aviation News.

“There are currently 147 cabin crew based in Vancouver. We are communicating with the union.”

Word of the closure was first reported in the South China Morning Post.

Cathay already closed its Toronto base last year, and plans to drop its overnight Vancouver – New York service at the end of the month. The flight was operated as a leg of a Hong Kong – New York service.

Cathay has been beset by a perfect storm in recent months, with pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong combining with the coronavirus outbreak in China combining to depress traffic to the airline’s major hub.

“This was the most challenging Chinese New Year period we have experienced,” said Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam, announcing the company’s January 2020 results which showed a three per cent drop in traffic to North America.

“As the novel coronavirus outbreak in mainland China intensified towards the end of the holiday period, travel demand dropped substantially. With more governments worldwide having imposed travel restrictions on passengers from mainland China and in some cases Hong Kong, we are seeing continued cancellations of bookings.”

It plans further capacity cuts as the crisis drags on.

As recently as January, Cathay boasted it was was the first airline ever to fly Vancouver-Hong Kong non-stop, setting a record in the process.

Categories: Vancouver