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Struggling HK Airlines sees 50 pilots quit with more expected to move

SOME 50 pilots are said to have joined the recruitment market after leaving the financially plagued Hong Kong Airlines.

The struggling carrier is also reported to be offering all its pilots secondments or transfers to HNA Group airlines, including Hong Kong Air Cargo.

Emirates is also said to be recruiting from the Hong Kong Airlines pool, which has about 630 pilots, reports UK's The Loadstar.

Cashflow issues have prevented the airline taking delivery of four new aircraft, currently waiting in Toulouse, but even more pressing is a heated battle among shareholders for control of the company.

Financially troubled HNA Group owns some 29 per cent of the shares, but a boardroom coup recently saw HNA-appointed chairman Hou Wei ousted by Zhong Guosong, who, it was thought, together with Frontier Investment Partner, controlled 61 per cent of the airline.

The former chairman and board members were ordered not to interfere in the business by a court.

HNA Group has denied allegations of embezzlement and financial misdeeds at the carrier, which has five A330 freighters in the fleet of its cargo subsidiary, Hong Kong Air Cargo, which also has three 747-400Fs on ACMI from Atlas Air.

However recent events have complicated the issue when it appeared that Frontier Investment had sold its 35 per cent share to Grand City Investment Capital this month, for US$69.7 million. Mr Zhong only holds some 27 per cent of the shares and, without Frontier, does not have a majority.

Last month, Hong Kong Airlines said it would reduce its fleet by 10 and return some aircraft to leasing companies after it was sued by two lessors over unpaid fees in February.

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