Hong Kong has had a disturbing and yet strangely hopeful year. With elections over, the pro-democracy parties have routed the government and establishment councils leaving the Chinese backed government with zero mandate and yet still immovably supported by the Chinese dictatorship in Beijing.
This has lead to crisis in the semi-autonomous state’s aviation sector.
Hong Kong Airlines is suffering most and yesterday decided it wouldn’t pay 45% of its staff – and those staff would mostly be the ones NOT in Hong Kong itself rather, those based overseas.
This has caused some upset, not least because the airline has savaged its international routes and virtually dropped its long haul.
When you can’t afford to pay staff you’re pretty much bankrupt. Discussion with the authorities to try and make life easier for the airline are under way. The government doesn’t want to see it fail – if it does it will simply demonstrate its powerlessness and that they have in many ways lost control of the economy, already in recession.
Cathay Pacific is also suffering, delaying deliveries, cutting some routes and trying to deal with recalcitrant and interfering Chinese authorities who keep threatening it behind the scenes.
The situation at the airport has also become so bad, that the authorities have said that the long list of airlines wanting to cut frequencies to cope with the down turn, don’t have to worry about loosing slots.
Under the use it or loose it system many slots would be relocated or lost – but European and US airlines have been told not to worry. The slots will be there when things get back to normal – whatever normal is in Hong Kong now.