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Cathay Pacific to close London pilot base, review U.S. bases

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FILE PHOTO: A passenger walks to the First Class counter of Cathay Pacific Airways at Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong
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(Reuters) - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd will close its London pilot base and review the last remaining overseas pilot bases in the United States, the airline said on Thursday, as it grapples with the impact of coronavirus.

The closure comes after Cathay put the London base under review in July and shut bases in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Germany this year in a bid to focus operations in Hong Kong, where pilots have taken permanent pay cuts to retain jobs.

The London-based pilots, many of whom had not been flying since April 2020, will be offered a redundancy or the opportunity to move to Hong Kong, Cathay said in a statement.

"The decision is not one we have taken lightly and does not reflect on the professionalism of the pilots based in London," the airline said.

Cathay added that it would review its U.S. bases later in the year.

It declined to say how many jobs were affected.

In June, Cathay resumed recruiting pilots with Hong Kong residency rights as part of its medium- to long-term planning, even though much of its fleet has been parked because of the pandemic.

In July, it reported a fall of 98.4% in passenger numbers from the corresponding 2019 month, before the pandemic hit, attributing the drop to tight border controls. But its air cargo business has performed better than before the pandemic.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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