Cathay Pacific takes action following China warning over protests

By Rachelle Harry

Cathay Pacific has suspended a pilot who was arrested amid ongoing protests in Hong Kong. It has also fired two members of ground staff for “misconduct”.

The suspension and terminations, which took place over the weekend, follow a warning emailed to staff from Cathay Pacific chief executive Rupert Hogg on August 5.

BBC News reports that Hogg’s email said: “Cathay Pacific Group has a zero tolerance approach to illegal activities. Specifically, in the current context, there will be disciplinary consequences for employees who support or participate in illegal protests. These consequences could be serious and may include termination of employment.”

Cathay Pacific had previously said that would not stop its staff participating in demonstrations in Hong Kong.

However, following increasing pressure from the Chinese government, a #BoycottCathayPacific hashtag trending on Chinese social media, and a decline in bookings, it has changed its stance.

The Chinese government pressure came in the shape of a series of conditions placed upon Cathay Pacific by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), including a requirement that any staff members involved in the protests are banned from flights to and from mainland China on safety grounds.

Today, Cathay Pacific Cargo issued a statement that hints at its readiness to discipline or fire staff who take part in the Hong Kong protests: “The CAAC issued a notice to Cathay Pacific Group on 9 August, informing us of new conditions that we are required to fulfil. Paramount to the CAAC’s conditions are views that Cathay Pacific Group strongly supports: flight safety is of vital importance. Cathay Pacific Group is committed to fully comply with all CAAC conditions,” the statement said.

“Though people may share different views, it is essential that we all respect each other, our customers and members of the public. Cathay Pacific Group has zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour that affects the safe operation of our flights and the service experience provided to our customers.”

Today, Hong Kong airport cancelled departing flights as a result of protests taking place in its main terminal.

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