Cathay sacks two pilots

Top News | Stella Wong 15 Aug 2019

Cathay Pacific fired two pilots who it previously suspended over protest-related incidents, it said yesterday.

Hong Kong's flag carrier sacked a pilot who was arrested and charged with rioting over clashes in Sheung Wan on July 28.

The pilot was previously removed from flying duties on July 30, although he had not flown since July 15.

Also fired was a second officer, who posted a photo of a cockpit display of flight CX216 flying back to Hong Kong on Monday with comments: "Those who left the airport, come back immediately."

It was seen as a call for protesters to gather again at the airport, after many left due to widespread rumors that police would conduct clearance operation. The second officer was fired for misusing company information.

"Cathay confirms that two pilots have been terminated in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment contracts," a spokesman said.

The airliner said a total of 272 departures and arrivals of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon were canceled on Monday and Tuesday, affecting more than 55,000 passengers. The airline managed to operate 622 departures and arrivals in those two days.

It said the severe disruptions of airport operation and obstructive behavior toward travelers on Tuesday were unacceptable. "Not only did they seriously harm Hong Kong's status as an international aviation hub, they also damaged the reputation of Hong Kong as a whole."

Cathay apologized for the confusion caused when some flights left on Tuesday even though they were shown as "canceled." It added: "We operated some flights to clear stranded transit passengers on Tuesday."

Cathay said check-in counters were closed yesterday so the airline was unable to board passengers who had not already completed check-in, security and immigration procedures.

Meanwhile, some freight transport companies may switch to nearby Shenzhen and Guangzhou airports if disruption to operations at Chek Lap Kok continues, the Hong Kong Shippers Council said.

Executive director Sunny Ho Lap-kee said the impact to air freight was relatively small as only a few cargo flights had been affected over the past days.

He said the industry has spare capacity as the volume of goods dropped from January to July amid the China-US trade war.

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said the occupation of the airport and forcing its closure caused unnecessary distress and financial losses for local and international travelers, as well as airlines.

It said the airport was correct in seeking a court injunction order to remove protesters.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Travel Industry Council issued separate statements expressing deep regrets to travelers and condemning protesters who paralyzed the airport and affected passengers.

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