Hong Kong’s flag carrier has allegedly given in to political pressure over the ongoing anti-government protests, after a recording circulated in mainland China that accused “pro-democracy flight attendants” of risking commuters’ safety by emptying oxygen bottles on two passenger planes while standing by in Canada.
Cathay Pacific Airways said they have been conducting an investigation after oxygen bottles on two Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, identified as B-KPY and B-KQB, were found to have been discharged and possibly tampered with in mid-August, the Apple Daily reported.
During routine ground inspections on August 17 and 18, airline staff became aware that a total of 13 oxygen canisters – five on one aircraft and eight on another – were discharged or partially discharged on the two planes at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
While the airline promised an internal investigation, a recording was recently leaked and widely circulated on Weibo, the social media platform in mainland China, featuring an unidentified woman speaking in a mix of Cantonese and English accusing pro-democracy attendants of ‘taking revenge’ against Cathay after the airline sacked staff who joined or supported the protests in Hong Kong.
However, there is suspicion about the claim is just unfounded slander, as the number of oxygen bottles that the woman in the recording states differs from the actual figures.
Protest over airline dismissals
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions won approval from police to hold a rally at 4pm on Wednesday evening in Edinburgh Place to protest against recent staff dismissals at Cathay Pacific, broadcaster RTHK reported.
Carol Ng, chairwoman of the Confederation, said the airline would have to face their workers because they were allegedly terminated without proper reason.
Cathay Pacific is said to have been under pressure since Friday August 9 when China’s aviation regulator demanded that the carrier should prevent airline staff who have supported the protests in Hong Kong from working on flights to the mainland or those routed through Chinese airspace.
Two senior Cathay executives, including CEO Rupert Hogg, resigned in the wake of the mainland’s intervention a week later.
Two pilots were also fired over their involvement in anti-government protests. But the confederation estimates that all up about 20 pilots and staff have been fired by the airline.
The latest victim was Rebecca Sy On-na, a flight attendant and union leader of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants’ Association.
She met the public on August 23 in a media briefing given by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, when she said she suspected her posts on Facebook about the protests led to her dismissal by Cathay Pacific.