Hong Kong Airlines (HX, Hong Kong Int'l) admitted in an internal note dated November 28 that it had been forced to delay payment of November salaries to almost half of its employees given a scaling back in capacity, the axing of some routes and the adjustment of frequencies on others.

While cabin crew and overseas employees will receive their salaries on time, arrangements have been made to distribute this month's salaries to other Hong Kong employees in December.

In response to media enquiries, Hong Kong Airlines later said that the continuing social turmoil and the continued weak travel demand were seriously affecting the company's business, Hong Kong Headline Daily reported. As this is not the peak tourist season revenues have fallen sharply, it explained, affecting the availability of funds for the distribution of salaries, implying it was largely relying on revenue from ticket sales to get by.

The carrier, which is backed by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, said all employees based in Hong Kong who had not yet been paid would receive payment on December 6, apologising for the inconvenience caused. The decision affects 1,600 staff, around 45% of its 3,560 employees, according to the South China Morning Post.

It assured that the arrangement was a one-off occurrence and would not affect daily operations. Staff will still provide customers with safe and smooth services in a professional manner, it stressed.

Hong Kong Airlines will discontinue its last scheduled North American flights to Vancouver Int'l from from February 10, 2020 and to Los Angeles Int'l from February 8, 2020, according to a press release, the airline offers 3x and 4x weekly A350-900 flights respectively to the two cities. Its Nanning route will be terminated on December 31, and a route to Yancheng came to a halt on November 15 already. In addition, its services to Tianjin (from February 20, 2020) and Ho Chi Minh City (from February 10, 2020) will also be given up.

The Air Licensing Transport Authority, a statutory body with the power to shut down carriers, warned in late October that it would impose measures if the airline’s financial situation did not improve.