Cathay Pacific Airways is targeting 18 June for the resumption of normal services as it re-trains returning pilots and closes charters with other carriers established under its pilots' recent 'sick-out'.

Spokeswoman, Diana Fung, says from Hong Kong that the carrier will operate at 89% of normal capacity today, having yesterday been forced to cancel 69 flights despite resolving its dispute with pilots a full three days before.

"We are pretty confident that by 18 June all the Cathay aircraft will be back into operations," says Fung, who adds that the carrier is dedicating aircraft simulator time to pilots that have fallen behind required time-in-the-air hours.

She says that the carrier has yet to calculate the cost of the two-week dispute, and says "right now we just want to focus on service resumptions".

Cathay's pilots began the 'sick-out' that observers estimate cost Cathay HK$30 million daily in lost revenues on 28 May, claiming that an earlier failure of talks between the carrier and Hong Kong's Aircrew Officers Association (AOA) left them too stressed to work. The dispute centred around wage cuts for senior 'A-scale' pilots employed by Cathay since before 1993 of between 7% and 22%.

Last ditch talks mediated by the Government's Labour Department finally resolved the dispute less than 24hr before the deadline with an agreement that saw the carrier's salary demands pass unchanged.

Cathay says the package will achieve cost savings of HK$1.4 billion ($180 million) over a ten-year period, although savings will be off-set by the dispute after which it has chartered 34 services to provide 98 flights from 110 originally scheduled for today.

The carrier, which posted its first net loss in 35 years of HK$542 million for 1998, chartered aircraft from a total of 20 other carriers during the dispute.

Source: Flight Daily News