Tam steps down amid Cathay pressure

Top News | Staff Reporters 21 Aug 2019

Pan-democratic lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, who is also a pilot, has resigned from Cathay Pacific, saying he wants the political storm surrounding the airline to stop with his resignation.

His resignation was approved with immediate effect yesterday.

Tam said Cathay has been unnecessarily and unreasonably smeared, especially in the past week, adding he resigned to protect the company he loves.

"I could do nothing but sit there and witness how this company - which nurtured us and fulfilled our dreams to fly in the sky - suffered from disproportionate attacks, and the only thing I can do is resign," Tam said.

He said he was not pressured by the airline to resign.

Hong Kong's flag carrier is suffering from unprecedented political pressure that even its chief executive, Rupert Hogg, had to step down, Tam said.

Tam, of the Civic Party, changed roles from a full-time pilot to a paid consultant in Cathay after winning the Kowloon East seat in the Legislative Council in 2016.

On August 9, the Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered the airline to ban all employees who supported or joined extradition bill protests from operating flights to the mainland or flying through Chinese airspace.

It said Cathay must submit for approval the identification details of crew members flying to the mainland or flying over mainland airspace.

The airline sacked two of its ground staff the following day for leaking travel arrangements for a Hong Kong police football team, which were due to fly to Chengdu.

On August 14, Cathay confirmed it had fired two pilots who it previously suspended over protest-related incidents. The first was arrested and charged with rioting over clashes in Sheung Wan on July 28, and the second for posting a photo of a cockpit display of flight that was seen as a call for protesters to gather again at the airport.

Hogg and the airlines' chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo Kar-pui resigned. A statement said Hogg resigned to take responsibility as a leader of the company in view of recent events.

On the other hand, Cathay said a pilot who said "keep it up Hongkongers. Be careful with everything" during in-flight broadcast on July 26 - while aviation staff staged a protest at the airport against the fugitive bull - was no longer an employee. The airline refused to confirm the pilot was in fact fired.

The pilot made the announcement in Cantonese when the flight arrived in Hong Kong from Tokyo, Japan.

Meanwhile, MTR Corp said its corporate affairs director, Linda So Ka-pik, has resigned to "pursue other opportunities." She will cease to be the corporate affairs director, a member of the executive directorate and the corporate responsibility committee from January 16 next year.

Asked if her resignation had anything to do with MTR drivers' action, a spokeswoman said there is no other information provided other than the announcement. Last Wednesday, more than 670 MTR drivers demanded the rail operator guarantee their safety during police action. A limited number of drivers joined non-corporation action on Monday.

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