Hong Kong Airlines (HX, Hong Kong Int'l) will cut 400 jobs or 10% of its workforce, it announced on February 7 as the coronavirus outbreak heaps rapidly weakening demand on top of the carrier's already grave financial troubles.

The majority of the dismissals – the most significant reduction of aviation staff in Hong Kong since the 2017 restructuring of Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) – will fall on pilots and cabin crew, the South China Morning Post reported. Employees have been warned that more roles will be cut as operations shrink further.

Part-owned by cash-strapped Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, Hong Kong Airlines said it would slash its daily operations from 82 flights to just 30, from February 11 into March.

Its ground staff in Hong Kong will be asked to take a minimum of two weeks' unpaid leave per month, or switch to working three days a week, from February 17 to June 30.

"As uncertainty looms with the evolving nature of this global issue, weak travel demand will likely continue into the summer season, and we need to take further action to stay afloat," an airline spokesman told Reuters. "There has never been a more challenging time in Hong Kong Airlines' history as now. These decisions are difficult but had to be made to keep the airline alive."

Cathay Pacific has already asked employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave, comparing current conditions surrounding the outbreak, which comes in the wake of months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, to the 2009 financial crisis.