HONG KONG — Hong Kong's full-service carrier Cathay Pacific closed its last overseas base, and the airline brings some US-based pilots back to Hong Kong as it trims expenses after being hit hard by the pandemic.

Cathay's US pilot bases shut on Oct. 31, and some crew will relocate to Hong Kong in the coming weeks, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg News. More than 60 US-based employees are leaving the airline, the memo said.

"There are no more overseas pilots bases as we continue to review all areas of our business to ensure we have a focused, efficient and competitive business as we continue to build back connectivity at the Hong Kong hub," Cathay said in an email statement.

"A number" of pilots have relocated to Hong Kong, it said.

The airline had pilot centers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Anchorage, a major cargo hub. It has already closed bases in the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand after Covid restrictions shredded flying schedules.

While Hong Kong has opened its borders to quarantine-free travel again, Cathay expects it will take at least two more years to fully recover. The airline flew just 16% of its pre-pandemic passenger capacity in September, with testing still required on entry into Hong Kong and Cathay's most significant market -- mainland China -- demanding quarantine on entry, keeping a lid on demand.

via Bloomberg