Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific on Wednesday announced that it will eliminate 8,500 job posts, making 5,900 staff redundant, and shut one of its regional airlines with immediate effect in an effort to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic-induced fallout.

This is the company’s largest jobs cut in its history, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

In the announcement, the carrier said 5,300 city-based and 600 overseas employees would be made redundant “in the coming weeks”, while 2,600 unfilled posts would be abolished.

Meanwhile, the company’s regional arm, Cathay Dragon, would “cease its operations with effect from today” and seek regulatory approval for most of its routes to be absorbed and operated by Cathay Pacific and budget sister unit HK Express.

Of the Cathay Pacific group’s 35,000 headcount, 24 per cent of roles would be eliminated, the company said, which would reduce its workforce to a level last seen in 2007.

Since the pandemic hit the city earlier this year, the airline witnessed a 99 per cent collapse in its daily passenger volume.

Presently, most of its planes are grounded, the South China Morning Post said in its report.

In an internal memo, Cathay CEO Augustus Tang told its 35,000 staff: “We have taken every possible action to avoid job losses up to this point… Unfortunately, we will not survive without further measures.

“This is a heart-wrenching decision to have to make, for which I am truly sorry.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents the global airline industry, had revealed in a forecast earlier this year that a recovery in air traffic to pre-pandemic levels would take at least four years.