Cathay gets sky-high $680m in staff subsidies

Top News | Sophie Hui 15 Jul 2020

The Cathay Pacific group received HK$680 million from the government's Employment Support Scheme, making Hong Kong's flag carrier and its subsidiaries the biggest beneficiaries so far.

That was seen as officials yesterday revealed the fourth batch of about 11,000 firms to benefit from the scheme.

"These employers have received wage subsidies totaling about HK$6.27 billion [for June to August] and committed to maintain a total paid headcount of about 270,000," a government spokesman said.

Six firms including the Cathay group altogether collected HK$100 million in subsidies in the fourth of at least six batches of recipients.

Cathay Pacific Airways received HK$458.2 million to back the wages of 17,703 employees while subsidiary Hong Kong Dragon Airlines received HK$69 million for 2,581. Asked if the subsidies covered overseas employees, the airline referred The Standard to the eligibility of the scheme which it covers employees with a Mandatory Provident Fund account only.

Other subsidiaries including Cathay Pacific Catering Services (HK), Cathay Pacific Services, Hong Kong Airport Services, Vogue Laundry Service and Asia Miles altogether received HK$147 million for 5,443 employees.

Another Cathay subsidiary, AHK Air Hong Kong (154 employees), had earlier received HK$4.12 million.

Kowloon Motor Bus, the SAR's biggest bus operator with 12,590 employees, collected HK$324 million. It was followed by Kai Shing Management Services, a member of the Sun Hung Kai Properties Group, with HK$136 million for 5,780 employees.

Another management services firm, Jones Lang LaSalle (4,804 workers), collected HK$118 million.

Ocean Park was given HK$59 million for 2,891 employees. Long Win Bus received HK$21 million for 824 workers, while Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals collected HK$59 million for 2,316.

More retailers and catering groups were among the latest recipients.

Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo Hong Kong collected HK$44 million for 3,225 employees, home appliances retailer Broadway Photo Supply HK$23 million for 874, catering group Tai Hing Worldwide Development HK$44 million for 2,003, and Yoshinoya Fast Food (Hong Kong) HK$18 million for 1,257.

Political parties also made the subsidies list.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the SAR's largest pro-establishment party, received HK$7.5 million for its 305 employees.

The pro-Beijing group New Territories Association of Societies and its related centers received HK$1.8 million for 94 workers and the New People's Party HK$1.14 million for 50. Civil Force earlier collected HK$371,250 for 17 employees.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the pan-democratic Civic Party received HK$242,787 for 11 employees.

The Democratic Party earlier received HK$383,553 for 19 workers.

And the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union was given HK$5.19 million for 233 staffers.

Under the scheme, business owners can receive half of their workers' wages for six months, with the monthly subsidy for each capped at HK$9,000.

From June 22 up to Monday, the scheme secretariat received 115 reports about employers abusing or violating conditions of the scheme. Mostly they involved unreasonable staff reductions and/or dismissal of employees, late payment of wages or pay cuts, suspected company closures or a change of operators.

Editorial: Morality tale revolves around easy money

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