As part of a review of its overseas flight crew operations, Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong International) has decided to close its pilot base in Canada and may do the same in Australia and New Zealand, the South China Morning Post reported citing an internal memo dated April 22. In addition, later this year, it will reevaluate its pilot bases in Europe and the United States.

Instead, the airline will start to transfer some overseas pilots to Hong Kong on a voluntary basis, the memo said. That may be difficult, however, as ex-pat flight crew currently receive only short-term visas, and there are already many unemployed pilots in the territory, particularly in the wake of the closure of Cathay’s full-service regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon (Hong Kong International) late last year.

Cathay Pacific, which last month reported a 2020 full-year loss of HKD21.65 billion Hong Kong dollars (USD2.79 billion), said it had been giving furloughed pilots in Europe and the US half of their salaries and those in Canada two-thirds. It stopped paying its Australian crews this month.

“Covid-19 continues to have a devastating impact on our industry and our airlines. Following the record loss for 2020, all of the company’s cash preservation measures continue unabated. It is clear that we must continue to review all areas of the business to ensure we emerge competitively from this unprecedented global crisis,” Deborah McConnochie, Cathay Pacific’s general manager for aircrew, told the newspaper in a statement.

The Canada base closure was a decision that had “not taken lightly,” she said, adding that the carrier had contacted Australian and New Zealand-based pilots to initiate a consultative process “based on a proposal to close those base areas.” The latter is currently only a proposal, she underlined, and no firm decisions on closures other than Canada have yet been made.

Cathay Pacific continues to burn HKD1.9 billion (USD245 million) a month, according to the South China Morning Post. Its recovery has faltered due to low Covid-19 vaccination rates in Hong Kong and government reluctance to broadly reopen international travel.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, of Cathay Pacific’s total fleet of 174 aircraft, including freighters, only 58 are currently active. In Canada, it currently operates passenger flights 1x weekly from Hong Kong International to Toronto Pearson as well as cargo-only flights that link Hong Kong, New York JFK, and Anchorage Ted Stevens to both Toronto and Calgary, the ch-aviation schedules module shows.