Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) has confirmed what it stressed in July was “simply a proposal”, to close its London pilot base as it continues to cut costs because of the impact of coronavirus.

The internationally focused carrier, which lacks a domestic network to fall back on to cope with government-imposed travel restrictions around the world, has already shuttered its pilot bases in Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, affecting 280 jobs.

Closing London affects an additional 100 cockpit crew, many of whom have not worked since April 2020. Those eligible to work in Hong Kong may opt to relocate to the Chinese special administrative region where Cathay has refocused its operations, but pilots there have been forced to take permanent pay cuts in order to keep their jobs.

According to the ch-aviation capacities module, Cathay Pacific currently operates 20x weekly between Hong Kong Int'l and London Heathrow.

Cathay Pacific also said in a statement that it would review its last remaining overseas pilot bases, in the United States, later in the year. That would put a further 140 jobs on the line.

“The decision is not one we have taken lightly and does not reflect on the professionalism of the pilots based in London,” the airline said.

In July, Cathay said that passenger numbers were down 98.4% from the same month in 2019, but its cargo business has improved on its pre-pandemic stats. The preceding month, it embarked on recruiting pilots with Hong Kong residency rights as it looked ahead to resuming services.