British Airways Closes Hong Kong Cabin Crew Base

Inside a refurbished British Airways 747 at Washington Dulles Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Britain’s flag carrier announced that it will be closing its cabin crew based in Hong Kong at the end of October. This comes after a review in the company’s global operation dynamics and the decision to centralize cabin crew a the airline’s home city, London.

In a statement to the South China morning post, a British Airways spokesperson said: “While we are really grateful to our cabin crew in Hong Kong for all of their hard work and dedication over the years, our strategic model going forward is to operate the route entirely with London based crew.”

A total of 85 Hong Kong-based flight attendants will be dismissed by the end of October. They were informed of the decision in a meeting held on Wednesday evening. 57 have been immediately laid off following the announcement, while the remaining 28 are expected to complete the remaining flights until through to the end of October, in accordance to the expiration of their contracts.

Flights on this route used to be operated with a mix of London and Hong Kong-based cabin crew, as the later were able to serve Cantonese speaking passengers which were unfamiliar with English.  Now, however, the route will be operated entirely by worldwide cabin crew based in the U.K.

This is the fourth cabin crew base outside of Great Britain which the airline has closed since 2017, following the cease of bases in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Singapore.

Affected members have until Saturday to accept the compensation terms offered by the airline, which have not been disclosed. Otherwise, they will receive the minimum stated by the labor law in Hong Kong, which equals to pay for seven days of work.

British Airways Hong Kong cabin crew association showed their discontent with the airline’s approach to the matter, saying that although this move had been rumored for a few years, they didn’t “expected BA to handle it in such an ugly manner.”

The London to Hong Kong route is known to carry high premium yields, due to the abundance of corporate travelers that require transport between both financial hubs. However, over the past year, the airline has disclosed that the route has been underperforming. While the British carrier offers twice daily service between both cities, Cathay Pacific flies five times a day, offering a greater choice of schedules that fit into traveler’s needs. In addition, Middle Eastern carriers such as Qatar Airways and Emirates offer more competitive premium products, usually priced competitively due to their flights having to make a shortstop in the Middle East. For the British carrier, this represents a heavy obstacle that reduces potential revenue.

Jose Antonio Payet

Jose Antonio Payet

As a geography nerd, Jose has always been fascinated by the complexities of the airline industry and its ability to bring the world closer together. Born and raised in Peru, now studying in the UK. he has travelled around America, Europe and South East Asia. His favorite aircraft is the Boeing 767-300, which he has flown many times during his childhood; although now the A350 is slowly growing up on him.
Jose Antonio Payet