Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific airlines’ CEO Augustus Tang on Wednesday informed that the airlines is asking 27,000 of its employees to take unpaid leaves for three weeks. This announcement is due to the severe crisis that the flagship carrier is facing in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I am hoping all of you will participate, from our front line employees to our senior leaders, and share in our current challenges,” he said in a video message posted online.

The request imposes bare desperate times at Cathay Pacific, which last year was hit by months of political chaos and protests in Hong Kong and now has further been hurt by the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The virus which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year has spread across the country over the Lunar New Year holiday, badly affecting the airlines business.

Due to the outbreak of the virus, dozens of international carriers have reduced or suspended flights to china in order to halt the pathogens spread and passenger numbers have also fallen drastically.

In the video message to employees, Tang said, “Cathay Pacific was experiencing one of the most difficult Chinese New Year holidays we have ever had because of the virus. And, we don’t know how long it will last.”

He further adds, “With such an uncertain outlook, preserving our cash is now the key to protecting our business.”

Tang in the video message also announced measures to fight the crisis which includes asking the staff to voluntarily take unpaid leaves.

He while addressing the staff said, “I realize this is difficult to hear. And we may need to take further steps ahead. But by supporting the special leave scheme, you will be helping at our time of need,”

Further to it, he asked the suppliers to reduce their prices and announced that the airlines will be taking short term adjustments to its capacity which includes an already announced move of reducing flights to the Chinese mainland by 90%.