49er Publishes a Book

"The 49ers - The True Story" by John Warham

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You're a pilot, a captain no less with Cathay Pacific - one of the world's most prestigious airlines. One day you receive a DHL package at your home in Hong Kong. You're fired! No formality, no reason, no warning. Soon you discover that 48 of your colleagues have been unceremoniously dismissed in the same manner.

This nightmare scenario is exactly what happened in July 2001 to Captain John Warham and his fellow '49ers'. It was the final fall of the axe after a protracted period of bitter wrangling between Cathay management and its pilots' union over cost-cutting, pay concessions, rostering and flight safety issues.

Over the next ten years, Warham and his 'Band of Brothers' fought tooth and nail against the mighty corporate power of Cathay in an attempt to exonerate themselves and show the company's true colours to the world. What resulted was one of the most complex and truly international litigation cases in aviation history.

In 2009, the pilots headed to court for the hearing of their case. John Warham's The 49ers tells their remarkable story.

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About the Author

John Warham graduated from The College of Air Training, Hamble in 1975 and began working in the same year as a commercial pilot for Casair Aviation Services in Teesside. He flew for British Air Ferries (Southend), Air Transcontinental (Windsor) and Monarch Airlines (Luton) before realising his boyhood dream as a Boeing 747 captain with Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong. He currently lives in Hong Kong. He is an honorary member of the Royal Air Force Association.

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Readers' Reviews


Readers' Reviews Highlights


Jane Doe:

Firstly, let me congratulate John on a great book that tells a story that needed to be told.....I encourage all young pilots with stars in their eyes and dreams of working for a prestigious international airline to read this book.
Well done John, and thank you.



This is a sad and cautionary tale of intrigue and dishonour. Sad because the events were allowed to occur in a wonderful airline with aircrew who were, on the whole, committed to its success. it is very well written by a courageous man who seems to have refused to succumb to bitterness and even maintains a sense of humour about this tragedy. A very good read with much to learn for a receptive mind.


R. Bluffield "Bob Bluffield" (Milton Keynes, UK):

This is a most concerning book that every airline passenger should consider - but will be afraid to read. The contents should make anyone think twice before taking a seat on a commercial airliner and it certainly will force many passengers to be more discerning over their choice of carrier particularly if the culture exposed in the book is taking place elsewhere.

John Warham's account of the pressures his employer, Cathay Pacific Airways, had imposed on their pilots shows how absolutely deplorably the CX management behaved. The book clearly defines just how the 'number crunchers' dictated that commercial considerations should override flight safety issues and the welfare of Cathay's loyal employees and customers.


Chris Parker (London, UK):

I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting (well, lie in actually, jet-lagged in a hotel).... This should be compulsory reading for all airline pilots, particularly those considering a move to HKG. Well done John, great book!


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