Cathay Pacific is axing 600 jobs at its Hong Kong head office as it responds to a massive slump in annual profit that saw it make its first loss in eight years.The changes will affect senior, middle management and non-managerial roles at the headquarters with around 190 management positions, 400 non-managerial roles to go.Most staff will learn their fate Monday and will receive a severance package that includes up to 12 months’ pay and extended medical benefits.The restructuring does not affect frontline employees such as pilots and cabin crew but the airline flagged these workers will be asked to “deliver greater efficiencies and productivity improvements, in line with the rest of the organisation”.“We greatly appreciate and respect our people’s dedication, hard work and achievements, ‘’ recently installed chief executive Ruper Hogg said in a statement. “However, we have had to make tough but necessary decisions for the future of our business and our customers.“Changes in people’s travel habits and what they expect from us, evolving competition and a challenging business outlook have created the need for significant change.”Hogg, the airline’s former chief operating officer, was named Cathay’s new chief executive as part of sweeping management changes announced in April.He took on the role as Cathay is reeling from increased competition from low-cost and Chinese carriers as well as a bad call on fuel hedging.Cathay Pacific’s profit nosedived last year by almost 110 per cent to a net loss of $HK575m ($US74m) amid warnings from the Hong Kong group that it expected the environment this year to remain challenging.It blamed the worse than expected result on “intense and increased” competition combined with economic factors such as the strength of the Hong Kong Dollar and reduced economic growth in mainland China.Hogg said the airline needed a new structure that would make it faster and more responsive to customer needs and this was the first step in the airline’s transformation.“We want to invest in and improve the experience that we offer people in Hong Kong and around the world, to find new ways to give our customers what they really want and need,” he said.The airline group will also restructure its cargo operations by removing the role of cargo director and making the unit direct report to a director of commercial and cargo.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency in the Capital as pollution levels entered the ‘severe plus’ category in the early hours of Friday.According to the official data provided by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall AQI score of Delhi was 504 at 3.30 a.m. on Friday after which alarm bells were sounded. The average AQI score of Delhi recorded at 4.30 p.m., which is the average of 32 monitoring stations in the past 24 hours, was 484, in the ‘severe’ category. AQI readings Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Greater Noida and Gurugram had AQI scores of 499, 496, 479, 496 and 469 respectively, all in the ‘severe’ category. In a letter to chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, EPCA chairman Bhure Lal said: “The air quality in Delhi and NCR deteriorated further last night and is now at the ‘severe plus level’. We have to take this as a public heath emergency as it will have adverse health impacts on all, particularly our children.” He added that construction activities in Delhi, Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida will not be allowed till November 5 morning. Mr. Lal said the deterioration in air quality is due to a combination of accumulated toxins because of local pollution, further spiked by bursting of crackers on Deepavali, stubble burning and extremely adverse weather conditions. He added that the India Meteorological Department has said that the weather will improve in the coming days, but it is difficult to say if it would lead to any substantial reduction in pollution levels. An urgent meeting of the CPCB was also convened during which it was discussed that stubble burning contribution to pollution has gone up to 45%, resulting in the current high particulate matter concentration. The agency advised people to minimise their outdoor activities during the period. Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the number of people complaining of respiratory problems post-Deepavali. Arvind Aggarwal, senior consultant, internal medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, said: “We have witnessed a rise in the number of people reporting to hospitals with respiratory and eye problems. An increase of 20%-22% patients has been seen in the OPD. People are facing symptoms associated with pollution like irritation in the eyes and throat, dry skin, skin allergies, chronic cough and breathlessness. We recommend asthmatic patients, elderly and kids should stay at home.”