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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Cathay sacks 49 pilots
Departure lounge at Cathay Pacific
Many departures have been delayed because of the strike
Cathay Pacific has sacked 49 pilots in response to industrial unrest.

The pilots' union condemned the decision as "shameful".

"It is a disgrace and a shameful act," said John Findlay, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA).

But Mr Findlay also indicated that the strike action would not be increased.

It is the second major dispute between pilots and management at Cathay - Asia's fourth-largest airline - in two years.

Severe delays

The airline announced on Monday that 23 captains and 26 first officers would receive three months' wages in lieu of notice.

Some of the pilots who were dismissed had worked for the airline for more than 20 years.

The dispute has caused delays to hundreds of flights from one of the world's busiest airports.

Cathay Pacific passengers begin to gather at Hong Kong's international airport terminal
Cathay passengers faced delays from Typhoon Utor as well as the strike
Hong Kong is a transport hub for East Asia and Cathay Pacific flies about a million passengers a month to and from the territory, one-third of all the traffic and cargo that passes through it.

The HKAOA said it would appeal against the dismissals.

The airline has claimed that the number of sicknesses has also risen during the dispute, although the union says that the workers can produce doctors' certificates.

Cathay starts to feel the cost

Last week, Cathay Pacific chartered 10 aircraft and crew from Chinese airlines to cope with disruption caused by the pilots dispute.

These planes could cost the airline as much as $1.8m each a month, according to UBS Warburg analyst Timothy Ross.

Talks between the airline and the pilots broke down at the end of June.

Cathay Pacific said it offered the pilots pay rises of up to 10.5%, but the union wanted pay and benefit rises of up to 32%.

Correspondents say the pilots are angered because at the height of Asia's financial crisis they were made to take pay cuts, then last year Cathay Pacific made record profits.

Cathay shares closed down 3.33% on Monday and have fallen 29.5% so far this year.

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See also:

02 Jul 01 | Business
Cathay pilots set to strike
03 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Cathay dispute threatens delays
06 Jul 01 | Business
Cathay Pacific sacks three pilots
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