Hong Kong flu

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Cathay Pacific Airways is the latest carrier to be hit with the dreaded Cockpit Croup. As you no doubt are well aware, there's been a lot of this particular virus going around lately.

The Cathay strain, though, is worth observing for the insidious way it has mutated in order to mount a more efficient invasion. Unlike the garden-variety virus contracted by American Airlines pilots earlier this season, this new Hong Kong flu is symptomatically subtler, more difficult to treat.

Given the option of accepting a pay cut, early retirement or termination, many Cathay pilots suddenly felt unwell. It seems that the stress induced by the thought of losing their jobs was so overwhelming that they found themselves unable to actually do their jobs. That's one sly bug.

Still, I'm betting the pilots recover soon. A disastrous 1998, a recent labor dispute with its flight attendants and huge losses over the current situation have put Hong Kong-based Cathay's brass section in a lousy mood. I have a hunch tough love will have those cockpits occupied again in no time.

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