* Staff cuts to made at Hong Kong headquarters
* First step of three-year restructuring program
* No frontline staff, pilots or cabin crew to be affected (Recasts with company statement)
HONG KONG/SYDNEY, May 22 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Monday it would sack nearly 600 staff as the first step in a reorganization plan as the airline looks to return to profitability.
Some 190 management jobs will be cut while a further 400 non-management staff will lose their jobs, with most notified over the next month, the company said in a statement.
Cathay Pacific said the cuts, representing 25 percent of management staff and 18 percent of non-managerial positions at its Hong Kong head office, were the first step in a three-year program announced this year.
"We have had to make tough but necessary decisions for the future of our business and our customers," Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Rupert Hogg said in a statement.
"Changes in people's travel habits and what they expect from us, evolving competition and a challenging business outlook have created the need for significant change."
In March, Cathay Pacific had said in an internal memo that it plans to cut the cost of middle and senior management roles at its Hong Kong head office by 30 percent. The memo came a day after the airline reported its first annual loss since 2008.
Cathay Pacific announced in April that Ivan Chu would step down as chief executive officer on May 1, and would be replaced by Hogg amid a wider leadership reshuffle.
The airline said no frontline employees, cabin crew or pilots would be affected by the job cuts announced on Monday because Cathay Pacific was still growing, but staff in those positions would be asked to deliver productivity improvements.
The company had some 33,700 employees globally as of March. (Reporting by Donny Kwok and Jamie Freed; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Edwina Gibbs)