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Airlines and airports have worked quickly to resolve labor discussion with employees prior to their proposed strikes during the holiday season, Cathay Pacific included.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Asia’s biggest international carrier, is seeing improved demand amid a recovery in North America and the year-end Christmas rush.

“The last few weeks have looked a little bit better than the prior 10 months,” Chief Executive Officer John Slosar said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “People didn’t do much traveling during the year.”

Cargo demand also improved in the last six to seven weeks on rising shipments of high-technology products, he said. The Hong Kong-based airline yesterday reached a deal with its flight attendants union, which had threatened industrial action to disrupt peak-season travel.

The settlement of the dispute is “good news for everybody,” he said. “I am very happy.”

The carrier fell 0.4 percent to HK$14.02 at 9:55 a.m. in Hong Kong trading. The stock has risen 5.3 percent this year, compared with a 22 percent gain for the city’s Hang Seng Index.

Cathay Pacific’s labor deal with cabin crew includes changes to flight patterns and working conditions as well as capping the overseas-based attendants crew to 15 percent of its total for the next two years.

The dispute intensified after the carrier announced a pay increase of about 2 percent on Nov. 30, compared with the union’s demand for 5 percent. Their disagreement mainly focused on Cathay’s use of cabin crew based outside Hong Kong, some of whom receive less pay than employees living in the city.

Cuts to long-haul services, because of slower demand, meant Hong Kong-based flight attendants faced potentially fewer flight hours, lower take-home pay, and reduced opportunities for promotion, according to the labor group.

Slosar, who is introducing more fuel-efficient airlines and cost cuts to end losses, sees strong demand coming from North America while he remains worried about Europe.

“2013 will be a big story of what the economy is going to do,” he said.

The carrier expects to benefit from any drop in oil prices and increases in global economic growth, Slosar said.

Editors: Robert Fenner and Lena Lee.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jasmine Wang in Hong Kong at [email protected]; Susan Li in Hong Kong at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at [email protected].


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Tags: cathay pacific, flight attendants, labor

Photo credit: Cathay Pacific flight attendants at the airline's 60th Anniversary party. Herry Lawford /

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