Cathay Pacific Airways said yesterday (18 August) it was investigating online rumours about an anonymous letter said to be from its employees, giving support for the ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
The airline has come under intense pressure from Beijing, after some of its staff supported the protests that have been going on for nearly three months. Over the past fortnight, the airline has reportedly sacked two pilots for being involved in the protests, along with two ground handling staff.
There has been major changes at Cathay Pacific, as on Friday (16 August) the carrier’s chief executive officer (CEO) Rupert Hogg resigned and was quickly replaced by Augustus Tang while chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo also resigned and was replaced by Ronald Lam, who is also CEO of Hong Kong Express.
The anonymous letter, claiming to be from Cathay employees, attacked the Hong Kong government for not responding positively to protesters, including the estimated two million people who marched on 16 June.
The letter also had criticised Beijing for using flight safety as an excuse to enforce political suppression and get employees sacked for supporting the protests, saying this was “white terror” against freedom of speech.
Cathay Pacific said in a statement: “We are aware of rumours circulating online regarding a letter claiming to be written by employees of Cathay Pacific. While we cannot confirm the authenticity of this letter, we are taking the matter very seriously and are conducting an internal investigation.
“We have shared with major media outlets and the public both in Hong Kong and mainland China the company’s stance, which we would like to reiterate again:
“We have been Hong Kong’s home carrier for many decades. This is our home. We have grown with this great city and are committed to remaining at the heart of its future growth and success.
“Cathay Pacific is deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and disruption impacting Hong Kong. We resolutely support the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Chief Executive and the Police in their efforts to restore law and order.
“We condemn all illegal activities and violent behaviour, which seriously undermine the fundamental principle of “One Country Two Systems” as enshrined in the Basic Law. All that is special about Hong Kong – its flourishing economy and the safe home it provides for our people and families – rests on a strong and respected rule of law. We must act now to stop the violence and preserve the stability, peace and prosperity of Hong Kong.
“Running a global airline, our ever present focus is to ensure safe and secure operations for our customers and staff. We abide by the rules and regulations of the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department and those of all the countries we serve and over whose airspace we fly. Cathay Pacific will comply with the CAAC safety directives at all times.”