Cathay Pacific is increasing its already generous monthly bonuses for senior pilots in a bid to slow the pace of quits. A starting captain at Cathay earns over $113,000 a year, but will also receive over $4,000 a month in bonuses, with some tasty extras, such as stipends to help cover the child’s school fees. But even with that kind of money, Cathay Pacific is struggling to retain its pilots.
Cathay increases monthly stipends to help retain senior pilots
According to Bloomberg News, Cathay Pacific is facing an exodus of pilots and, to counter the trend, is increasing monthly allowances for level 2 co-pilots and all captains. Level 2 co-pilot monthly stipends increase from $2,800 to over $3,300. A Tier 1 captain will see their monthly allowance increase from around $3,800 to over $4,000.
As you move up the ranks, a Level 2 Captain will enjoy an increase in their monthly allowance from around $3,800 to over $4,300. Level 3 and 4 captains will see their monthly allowance of $4,200 jump to almost $4,600. Monthly allowances for Tier 1 Second Officers and First Officers will remain unchanged, giving a clear picture of where Cathay Pacific is feeling the pilot shortage the most.
Cathay Pacific faces a shortage of pilots, especially among its senior executives. Photo: Airbus
A generous salary cannot compensate for the challenges that come with working for Cathay Pacific
Annual base salaries at Cathay Pacific start at around $49,000 for Tier 1 second officers and rise to around $164,000 for Tier 4 captains. In addition to increasing monthly allowances for its more experienced pilots, Cathay Pacific allows all of its pilots to claim approximately $13,000 per child (up to a maximum of three children) per year to cover school fees, whether in Hong Kong or overseas. With a high number of expatriate pilots normally enrolled at Cathay Pacific, the cost of tuition, especially boarding fees, can be a severe tax.
Cathay Pacific is flying at less than 2% of its pre-pandemic capacity, and the airline’s continued challenges are generating considerable aviation news. Bloomberg notes that a generous salary doesn’t fully compensate for the long quarantine periods and closed-loop shifts that keep them on the road for weeks. The media unsurprisingly says that the morale of the Cathay Pacific pilots is low.
In addition to their base salary and monthly allowances, Cathay pilots are also entitled to hourly flight compensation. But this flight pay is dependent on pilots achieving a minimum number of flight hours each month, which due to very limited operations most pilots are not.
Cathay Pacific is flying at less than 2% of its pre-pandemic capacity. Photo: Cathay Pacific.
Keep experienced pilots
The high number of pilots voluntarily leaving Cathay Pacific adds to the involuntary layoffs earlier in the pandemic. But towards the end of 2021, alarm bells started ringing at Cathay Pacific headquarters over the exodus of pilots, forcing the airline to take countermeasures such as increasing monthly allowances. In total, the number of pilots at Cathay is down about 400 from 2021. Cathay finished last year with about 2,700 pilots on the books, but said it plans to hire several hundred more. others this year.
However, hiring a batch of NCOs is not enough to lose swathes of experienced captains in the ranks. When Cathay Pacific gets its mojo back, they will need these captains. As the increase in monthly allowances this week indicates, Cathay Pacific is willing to pay to keep them.
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