Cathay Pacific has asked all its 27,000 staff to consider taking three weeks of unpaid leave over the next few months. The move, along with steep capacity cuts, is a response to the coronavirus epidemic. It will not be enough to offset losses. But the embattled Hong Kong flag carrier needs to do what it can to preserve capital.

The outbreak’s rapid spread has rattled travellers’ nerves. Cathay will cut almost a third of its overall capacity, compounding a drop in traffic caused by the Hong Kong protests. A 2017 turnaround plan has meant many years of cost-cutting. It has left little room for Cathay to trim anything other than wages.

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