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Cathay defends firings, renews Air China pact

Cathay Pacific is “duty-bound” to comply with regulations from the countries it operates from, including having to submit the names of personnel for China-bound flights.

Cathay’s director of public affairs James Tong says: “Full compliance with all regulations is a pre-requisite for the airline’s continued operations, and we are obliged to adhere to them.”

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has banned any Cathay staff linked to anti-government protests from operating flights into the mainland and over its airspace. It has also asked Cathay to submit lists of staff on China-bound flights, or risk being barred from operating to China.

On this, Tong reiterates that Cathay has to “adhere to all of our regulatory duties, including those prescribed by the authorities in mainland China”.

“The airline must do this; there is no ground for compromise,” he adds.

The Oneworld carrier’s latest statement comes as hundreds gathered at downtown Hong Kong to protest the airline’s alleged treatment of staff members linked to anti-government protests, including the sacking of the head of one of the airline’s flight attendant unions.

It was previously reported that Rebecca Sy was given the chop over her social media posts, including one which expressed outrage over the resignation of ex-Cathay chief Rupert Hogg and former customer and commercial chief Paul Loo.

Cathay declined to comment on individual cases, but adds that it “takes into account all relevant factors when determining whether or not to dismiss an employee, including necessary regulatory requirements as well as the employee’s ability to perform their role.”

The South China Morning Post, citing the Confederation of Trade Unions in Hong Kong, reports that at least 20 aviation professionals have either been fired, or resigned in the past month, when protests over an unpopular extradition bill hit fever-pitch.

While the airline was largely silent over the protests against an unpopular, now-shelved extradition bill, it recently made an about-face and denounced the protests.

In a series of statements over the past weeks, Cathay has reiterated its support for the Hong Kong government, the Hong Kong chief executive, and the police force, which has been criticised for its use of excessive action against protestors.

Separately, the airline and Air China reaffirmed their partnership for another three years. Both carriers state that the partnership will “further the development of Beijing Capital International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport as gateways to and hubs for Mainland China”.

“[It] will assist Air China Group and Cathay Pacific Group in their efforts to optimise the allocation of operating resources,” the carriers add.

Air China owns nearly 30% of Cathay, while Cathay owns 18.1% of the Star Alliance carrier. They entered into the partnership in 2008, and cooperate in areas such as codesharing, frequent flyer programmes, catering and ground services.

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