Several airlines are to receive wage subsidies from the Hong Kong government, though the city’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways is not among the first tranche of companies to be approved for the scheme.
Taipei Taoyuan-based China Airlines, with a “committed headcount under payroll” of 222 in Hong Kong, has been approved to receive HK$6.12 million (US$790,000).
Fellow Taiwanese carrier EVA Airways, for which the headcount figure is 72, has been approved to receive HK$1.94 million.
Guangzhou-based China Southern has been approved for HK$692,250. This amount is split between two affiliate companies: HK$588,750 for China Southern Airlines Hongkong Office, with a headcount of 22, and HK$103,500 for China Southern International Ltd, which has six employees under payroll.
While these are all relatively small in the grand scheme of airline bailouts, airline treasury departments are under intense pressure to find cash wherever they can amid the low-demand Covid-19 environment.
China Airlines, China Southern and EVA Air were among some 25,500 companies receiving subsidies totalling HK$4.8 billion under the first tranche of Hong Kong’s Employment Support Scheme (ESS).
Applications for that tranche closed after midnight on June 14. The government says it received 168,799 submissions. These spanned about two-thirds of the eligible employers.
Under the ESS scheme, the government will pay 50% of the actual wages paid to each “regular employee” in the specified month. The maximum monthly wage subsidy per employee is HK$9,000. The subsidy period in this first tranche announced on 22 June runs for three months from June 2020 to August 2020.
Cathay Pacific, which is set to receive a $5 billion government bailout and has said it will avail itself of the ESS, was not mentioned in the announcement, though the government plans to announce a second tranche of companies later.