Cathay Pacific clips off another pilot's wings over protest

Local | Stella Wong 26 Aug 2019

Another Cathay Pacific Airways pilot has been fired for protest-related activity, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has confirmed.

He was the seventh Cathay employee and the fourth pilot known to have been sacked this month in connection with the fugitive bill controversy.

It is understood the pilot was banned from entering mainland airspace when he was flying an aircraft from the United States to Hong Kong. He was subsequently replaced by a colleague.

Sources said Cathay management showed the pilot screenshots of Facebook posts made by him - as was done with Rebecca Sy On-na, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants' Association before she was fired.

The pilot's contract was terminated immediately - apparently with safety reasons being cited - after he confirmed the Facebook account was his. "We are furious that another pilot was fired," confederation chairwoman Carol Ng Man-yee said. "It is unreasonable to link one's political opinions to aviation safety."

Ng said she was concerned the trend would spread to other airlines and industries and asked: "Will political views become an employment criteria that overrides one's capabilities and professional qualifications?"

Cathay Pacific declined to comment yesterday.

It was on August 9 that the Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered the airline to ban all employees who supported or joined "illegal protests," "violent actions" and "overly radical activities" from operating flights to the mainland or flying through Chinese airspace.

Meanwhile, Ng said the police had voiced its opposition verbally to a protest that was planned at Cathay City today.

But the confederation is "cautiously optimistic" about getting approval for a protest on Wednesday.

"We have stressed that it will be a peaceful protest and no one plans to storm Cathay City," Ng said.

She also said an injunction against protests at the airport covers operations, but the protest at nearby Cathay City would not affect passenger journeys or flights.

But the carrier claimed yesterday that the injunction also covered Cathay City, which is "the operational hub for its global operations" and includes facilities that are "absolutely critical to flight operations."

It added: "Any activities that impact our ability to operate safely not only significantly disrupts the public but also jeopardizes the safety of our customers and employees."


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