Oxygen issue may hit Cathay amid further queries over flight security
Airline facing further queries over flight security
Published: Aug 28, 2019 08:03 PM

Photo: IC

Embattled Cathay Pacific Airways faces a new trust crisis as the airline confirmed that a number of portable oxygen bottles stored onboard two planes were found to have been discharged, which triggered more concerns over the carrier's flight safety. 

The company said on Tuesday that a number of portable oxygen bottles stored onboard two of its aircraft were found to have been discharged or partially discharged while the aircraft were on the ground, prior to departure at Toronto airport. Of the 22 bottles carried onboard each aircraft, five were affected on one aircraft and eight on the other.

The company said it is taking the issue very seriously, and has launched an internal investigation into the matter.

A frequent flyer to Hong Kong surnamed Huang told the Global Times on Wednesday that she will try to avoid taking Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong if there are alternative options after learning about the oxygen issue. 

"The most important thing is that I cannot trust them anymore," she said.

"Although it is only an oxygen bottle, it is related to the protection of every life in the flight cabin," Guo Ning, a veteran airline expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

He said the "small dangerous actions" of individual Cathay employees have reached the height of anger, as they are violating people's rights to security, in exchange for media attention and political gains. 

"Cathay Pacific should thoroughly investigate the matter and find the culprit, and give a satisfactory explanation to its employees and passengers," he said. 

The airline has been grilled for days amid violent protests in Hong Kong, as it said on Wednesday that full compliance with all regulations is a prerequisite for the airline's continued operations, and it is obliged to adhere to them.

"We are also required to adhere to all of our regulatory duties, including those prescribed by the authorities in the Chinese mainland. The airline must do this; there is no ground for compromise," the company said in a note sent to the Global Times. 

The note was issued in response to media enquiries regarding the assembly and petition by the Confederation of Trade Unions on Wednesday, which still proposed a rally at the Edinburgh Place in Central, but the location was changed from the original one near the airport after the location was banned by the police. 

The airline has released several statements this month, claiming to support the upholding of the Basic Law and all the rights and freedoms afforded by it, amid the background of the declined traffic. 

The company said on August 21 that traffic into Hong Kong, both for business and leisure, had weakened substantially. The group also said it saw outbound Hong Kong traffic starting to soften, particularly for short-haul flights.

Cathay Pacific's passenger load factor was 86.1 percent in July, down 0.6 percentage points year-on-year, and the total weight of cargo and mail carried was 169.72 million kilograms, down 8.2 percent year-on-year, according to a statement the airline sent to the Global Times earlier. 

A Global Times reporter took flight KA901 from Beijing to Hong Kong on Wednesday, and found that there were a lot of vacant seats and not many passengers, although the service was as usual.