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Transportation

Cathay Pacific offers 1-month unpaid leave to staff

Hong Kong's top airline scrambles to cope with damage from protests

Cathay Pacific Airways has suffered from double-digit declines in Hong Kong airport traffic due to anti-government protests.   © Reuters

GUANGZHOU -- Hong Kong's largest airline, Cathay Pacific Airways, has offered staff up to one month of unpaid leave amid plunging passenger traffic due to the city's anti-government protests.

The airline is encouraging some of its own employees as well as pilots at subsidiary carrier Cathay Dragon to take the offer, according to reporting by the South China Morning Post.

Although the leave is voluntary, the proposal could extend to staff in additional segments. Cathay Pacific reportedly is not planning job cuts at this time.

The monthslong demonstrations have discouraged air travel to Hong Kong. The number of passengers going through Hong Kong International Airport in November shrank 16% from a year earlier to roughly 5 million, official data shows, marking the fourth consecutive month of double-digit attrition.

Cathay Pacific has grounded some international air service during the winter season from the end of October to the end of March, and plans to cut carrying capacity by 1.4% this year.

Rival Hong Kong Airlines will suspend service to Vancouver, Canada, along with two other routes. The prolonged protests threaten to exacerbate the depressed business climate for the city's airline industry.

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