Cathay Pacific warns its employees against participating in a rally in its global operations headquarters, which is allegedly scheduled on August 26, 2019. The airline has stated it has a “zero tolerance attitude” towards employees who participate in, or support “illegal” demonstrations, as well as “violence or excessive radicalization”.
The reminder comes ahead of a rally, which the airline believes will be held on August 26, 2019, in Cathay City ‒ its main operations hub.
Previously, Airport Authority of Hong Kong has obtained a High Court injunction order, blocking protests in the territory. The order prohibits “attending or participating in any demonstration or protest or public order event in the Airport”, the airport authority has warned, adding that a failure to comply could result in a fine or imprisonment. The order also includes Cathay City, the carrier now reminds, adding that the facilities “support the vitality” of its flight operations.
“Any activity that affects our safe operation not only seriously hinders the public’s travel, but also poses a threat to the safety of our customers and employees,” a statement issued by the airline on August 24, 2019, reads. “It also undermines the Hong Kong economy and the reputation of the Hong Kong International Airport”.
The airline also states that its supports the “maintenance of all rights and freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law”, however, it “must comply with all applicable regulations for flights to and from countries and regions, including Mainland China”, as noted both in the statement, and an announcement issued the previous day, August 23, 2019.
“Cathay is an international airline operating worldwide,” the August 23 statement, attributed to Corporate Affairs Director Tang Weibang, reads. “For all of the company’s colleagues, the past few weeks have been difficult. I am very grateful to all colleagues for keeping their posts and continuing to provide professional services to our customers.”
Cathay Pacific already had to change its stance on the protests: from John Slosar saying that the airline “wouldn‘t dream of telling them what they [Cathay Pacific employees – ed. note] have to think about something”, to Cathay Pacific officially stating that the Hong Kongese carrier “is deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and disruption impacting Hong Kong” and condemns “all illegal activities and violent behaviour”. The airline fired two pilots in accordance to the CAAC’s “safety risk warning”.
As protests in Hong Kong continue, Cathay Pacific finds itself in the middle of tensions between the autonomous region and mainland China. Previously, the Hong Kong airline was allegedly warned by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) that the carrier’s staff participating in the ongoing protests would be banned from working on flights to mainland China or flights operating in Chinese airspace.
To comply with the order, Cathay Pacific was tasked to submit lists identifying flight crews that would operate within Chinese air space. The airline was also ordered to provide Chinese authorities the details on how it will “strengthen internal control and improve flight safety and security”.
In August 2019, Rupert Hogg, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, and the Chief Customer & Commercial Officer, Paul Loo have been replaced by Augustus Tang and Ronald Lam, respectively. The change in Cathay Pacific board of directors were allegedly ordered by Chinese aviation authorities, some media reports indicate.