Cathay Pacific urged to clear stance on HK following trade union post

By Shen Weiduo and Li Xuanmin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/24 0:44:15

Industry analysts are urging Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong carrier with UK background, to clarify its position and not to engage in political activities that violate the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The response came after a trade union representing its cabin crew said on Tuesday it is disappointed at the Hong Kong authority's handling of the extradition bill and is calling for a protest on Friday at Hong Kong International Airport.  

"The performance of HKSAR in handling the extradition bill, the five demands of Hongkongers and the violent attacks on random civilians in Yuen Long MTR carriage have greatly disappointed the citizens of Hong Kong," Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union (CPAFAU), said in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.

"FAU is now calling all of you to join us on July 26, 2019 for a peaceful protest in the Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1 Arrival Hall," it said.

According to its Facebook account, FAU is the trade union of the cabin crew of Cathay Pacific Airways and any airline company in which Cathay Pacific Airways has a 30 percent or more shareholding. 

Cathay Pacific said in a note sent to the Global Times early Wednesday that it is not the organizer of the event, a vague response that industry analysts have viewed as not an official separation of itself from the event and union.

The union is a non-government organization (NGO) and it does not represent Cathay Pacific, Qi Qi, an independent market watcher, told the Global Times on Tuesday. But the carrier should clarify its position by denouncing the move as soon as possible and officially separate itself from the NGO, he said.

"We will never accept that Cathay Pacific, as an airline with a UK background, will tolerate the union's organization of political activities that violate the basic law of HKSAR and irrationally engage in such activities," Qi said.

Swire Pacific is Cathay Pacific's principal shareholder with a 45 percent shareholding, while the other major shareholder is Air China. UK-based John Swire & Sons is a majority stakeholder in Swire Pacific.

"Do not let the behavior of individuals affect the normal operation of Cathay Pacific or influence its official stance," Qi said.

The trade union's post has also drawn criticism from Chinese travelers, some of whom said they will say goodbye to Cathay Pacific if it does not clarify its stance by denouncing illegal activities.

A Shenzhen-based regular passenger of Cathay Pacific surnamed Yang, who often takes a Cathay Pacific connection flight to overseas destinations, told the Global Times that he will boycott the airline and choose other carriers, such as Southern Airlines, if the company does not deal with the matter in a swift and convincing manner. 

"To appeal to the huge domestic consumer market, the company needs to respect Chinese laws and most importantly, the principle of 'one country, two systems'," he said. "This is the bottom line, not to mention putting your personal safety under risk as you're being served by a group of hostile flight attendants of Cathay Pacific."

The carrier now accounts for more than 80 percent of the aviation market in Hong Kong, after completing the acquisition of low-cost rival HK Express in March, according to media reports. 

Industry observers have warned that the claimed "peaceful protest" on Friday will definitely affect the normal operation of Hong Kong airport and seriously taint Hong Kong's image among international tourists, impacting their confidence in Hong Kong.

"It will fundamentally slow down the local tourism and aviation industry's development in the long term."

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