Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific fires pilots under pressure from China

Updated: Aug 16, 2019, 08:17 IST | Agencies |

The decision came days after the chief executive of the national carrier of Hong Kong warns staff that they could be fired for supporting the 'illegal protests' in the country

Even before protesters caused hundreds of flight cancellations, Cathay was having a torrid time. Pic/AFP
Even before protesters caused hundreds of flight cancellations, Cathay was having a torrid time. Pic/AFP

Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific said Wednesday two pilots had been sacked, as the Hong Kong carrier comes under huge pressure from Beijing to clamp down on staff supportive of anti-government rallies. "One is currently involved in legal proceedings. The other misused company information on Flight CX216/12 August," the airline said in a statement.

Hong Kong has been gripped by ten weeks of protests that have seen millions take to the streets, sparked by opposition to a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The demonstrations have evolved into a much broader campaign for democratic freedoms. Cathay Pacific chief executive Rupert Hogg warned staff on Monday that they could be fired for supporting "illegal protests".

The airline said last week it had suspended a pilot accused of rioting after allegedly participating in protests. It also said it had fired two ground staff, without specifying why. Local media reported that they were accused of leaking the travel details of a Hong Kong police football team that was travelling to the mainland. Cathay has struggled to find middle ground in the increasingly bitter standoff between protesters in Hong Kong and local authorities backed by Beijing.

The airline is now subject to new regulations announced last week by Beijing's aviation regulator. The rules require the airline to submit manifests of staff working on flights going to the mainland or through its airspace. They ban any staff member accused of involvement in "illegal protests" from working on those flights, with authorities warning planes could be prevented from landing if they fail to comply.

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