Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. pilot’s union has called for a government inquiry into the Hong Kong carrier’s handling of mass flight cancellations, laying the blame for the current woes at steep job cuts made during the height of the pandemic.   

“Any such review must examine the root of Cathay’s problems, which lie in the decisions made by management in 2020,” Paul Weatherilt, the chairman of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association said in a statement Tuesday. “Hong Kong aviation will continue to suffer until there is an acknowledgment of these mistakes and a change in leadership, particularly among those responsible for overseeing flight operations.”

The union’s calls comes after Hong Kong Transport Secretary Lam Sai-hung expressed great concern at Cathay’s senior executives over the flight cancellations in a Facebook post Monday.

The airline didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cathay said Sunday it was scrubbing around 12 flights a day through to the end of February to avoid disruptions in the peak Lunar New Year travel period. The carrier has said a large part of the flight cuts stem from pilots hitting flying limits of 900 hours across a rolling 12-month period, Bloomberg News reported earlier.

The airline’s chronic shortage of pilots, at captain and first officer rank, comes after it eliminated thousands of jobs at the height of Covid and cut salaries of remaining workers by as much as 50%. Pilots on staff now stand at 2,532, according to data from the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, down 35% from the end of 2019. 

Scrubbing flights in the short term gives back pilots more hours to fly under the rolling cap, giving Cathay flexibility to deploy crews for its increased flight schedule during Lunar New Year, which runs from Feb. 10-17.