Cathay Pacific has sent a memo to pilots warning them to keep their speed up while taxiing or face unspecified action from management. According to the memo, obtained by the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong Airport Authority complained to the airline that the pokey pilots were causing delays and congestion at the busy airport. “The Airport Authority advised us that their data indicated that some Cathay Pacific aircraft were taxiing at a considerably slower speed than other operators for both arrivals and departures,” the memo said.
The airline said in the memo that pilots should be taxiing at 15-20 knots in most areas and up to 30 knots when feasible. It said it would be keeping an eye on the taxiways and if they spot a slow taxi offender “we will follow up with the relevant commander and then take any further action that may be required.” Officially, the pilot’s union has offered the vague explanation for the slow taxiing, blaming it on “low morale.” Pilots have rejected the explanation circulating that pilots are padding their paychecks now that they’re paid for the actual time spent on a trip rather than the expected flight time. Cathy pilots spent two years of the pandemic in almost constant quarantine and when it ended they pay cuts to help keep the struggling carrier afloat.
It is rather stupid to set up a pay system that rewards pilots for flying or taxiing slowly or – seen the other way round – penalizes them for being quick, making up delays, etc. Airlines that don‘t believe that are likely to find out sooner or later.
Bean-counters are rarely experienced in the industry they work for, it seems. Thus dumb ideas like this, approved by management with only management qualifications.
I’d comment that unions get the quality management they deserve, but that sort of stupidity is common in sales commission plans. I talked to a lot of companies though, and none of them were the slightest bit interested in having their plans tested for this kind of failure even when I offered to do it for free. The people making the plans, much like regulators and legislators, simply don’t seem to care. They think whatever they do will soon need changing anyway, so they choose based on what will fool the boss and move on.
It’s genuinely sad to watch the slow decline of what was one of Asia’s most respected and storied airlines.
Pay is usually computed from block time. From when the aircraft moves under it’s own power to when the brakes are set at the gate at the destination. Once airborne there’s very little that can be done to change the time. But taxiing it’s possible. But a bad idea if there’s others behind and being delayed.