Hong Kong’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific has asked staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave to help it cope with the impact of the coronavirus.
The carrier had already been hit by the effect on passenger demand of several months of anti government protests in Hong Kong.
It has offered a voluntary special leave scheme to all employees from 1 March to 30 June.
The airline said that preserving cash was “key to protecting” its business.
Earlier this week, Cathay announced it had cut services to mainland China and also on other international routes.
The airline had already been facing difficulties because of several months of anti government protests in Hong Kong, an international financial and travel hub and a key part of its business.
Analysts said the airline had been likely to offer the unpaid leave scheme to staff because of those issues anyway.
In a statement, the airline said: “In view of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and also significant drop in market demand, we just announced massive capacity cuts yesterday.
“Preserving cash is the key to protecting our business. We have already been taking multiple measures to achieve this.
“Today, we are appealing to all employees to participate in the special leave scheme, which will take effect from 1 March and last until 30 June. All employees will have the option to take three weeks of unpaid leave in this period.”