Cathay Pacific to close U.S. cabin crew bases, laying off 286 staff

A passenger walks to the First Class counter of Cathay Pacific Airways at Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong, China April 4, 2018 – REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

SYDNEY: Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd will close its three cabin crew bases in the United States, the airline said on Friday, laying off 286 staff as the coronavirus pandemic has virtually halted global travel.

The carrier has grounded most of its planes because of the fall in demand, flying only a skeleton network to major destinations such as Beijing, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver in April and May that represents just 3% of normal capacity.

In a statement, Cathay said it was communicating with the affected crew in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as their union.

Last month it announced the closure of its Vancouver cabin crew base, with 147 crew, as part of a business review.

On Thursday, Cathay said it was exploring all available options to ride out the storm and doing all it could to preserve cash. One day this week, it had carried just 302 passengers, compared to around 100,000 on a typical day.