Cathay warns staff as it hits heavy China turbulence

Top News | Daphne Li 13 Aug 2019

Cathay Pacific further tightened the screws on its employees yesterday by saying that joining any "illegal protests" may result in disciplinary action or dismissal.

The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration criticized Cathay Pacific last Friday for "posing looming dangers to air safety" and ordered it to give identity information on its crew members on flights that would pass through mainland airspace.

Stock of the airline fell 4.85 percent to HK$9.80 yesterday, its lowest level in a month.

Cathay became the target of mainland aviation authorities after some of its staff joined the protests.

One of its pilots was charged with rioting in the Sheung Wan unrest on July 28.

Huarong International Holdings Ltd, China's largest bad-debt manager based in Hong Kong, told its workers on Friday to boycott Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air when flying on personal and business trips, Bloomberg reported.

Rupert Hogg, Cathay's chief executive, said in an internal e-mail yesterday: "We are all obliged to abide by law at all times."

The company has a "zero tolerance approach to illegal activities" and staffers who support or take part in any unauthorized protests may face disciplinary consequences or be sacked, he said.

Hogg also wrote an e-mail to the media on Saturday, a day after the CAAC's criticism and action.

Hogg wrote yesterday: "Actions and words of our employees made outside of working hours can have a significant effect on the company.

"Inevitably actions of our employees frequently attract attention and would be treated as representing the company's position.

"Our social media policy also makes it clear that you should not post anything that breaches privacy of colleagues, constitutes bullying or harassment or could bring Cathay Pacific Group into disrepute," said Hogg in the e-mail.

The Lennon wall put up by ground staffers was removed as requested by the management.

The mainland authority also requested the airline to bar crew members who have taken part or supported the protests from flying into mainland airspace.

The airline should also submit a plan of stepping up internal safety controls and improving flight safety and security before Friday.

"We will comply with the CAAC notice in full," said Hogg in his e-mail.

A Cathay spokesman said on Saturday that two of its airport employees were sacked for leaking travel arrangements for a Hong Kong police soccer team flying to Chengdu and a pilot charged with rioting has been removed from flying duties.

Last Wednesday, the carrier's chairman, John Slosar, said: "We certainly wouldn't dream of telling them [employees] what they have to think about something."

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