CAAC’s political punishment of Cathay Pacific’s crew should downgrade it to CAT II

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CAAC orders Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon to fire Crew in Hong Kong demonstrations

Reason for termination is PURELY political punishment

FAA should downgrade CAAC to Category II

The People’s Republic of China does not like the protests of the Hong Kong citizens. Totalitarianism abhors these displays of civic protest. The powers at the PRC must have ordered the Civil Aviation Administration of China to punish the employees of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon by compelling their termination for expressing their disapproval of a proposed law to be imposed on Hong Kong.

That abuse of the CAAC’s safety powers for political purposes should merit a Downgrade of it IASI rating from Category I to II.

Claims: As Many As 200 Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Have Now Been Fired in Protest Crackdown

The airline said its Code of Conduct “covers a wide spectrum of areas” including private social media posts made by its employees, as well as any other conduct that may affect the company’s interests.


Cathay Pacific has been put on notice by mainland Chinese authorities to curtail any behaviour by staffers that would be seen to be supporting the protest movement China’s civil aviation regulator claims Cathay Pacific was putting safety and security at risk if it failed to carry out a clampdown after the airline initially showed indifference to staff taking part in protests.

“Earlier this month (August), the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a directive with regards to new safety and security measures with which we are required to fully comply,” the airline explained.

“We fully support the upholding of the Basic Law and all the rights and freedoms afforded by it. At the same time, we are also required 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.”


‘White terror’ at Cathay Pacific: Flight attendant union head fired for supporting Hong Kong protests on social media

The taming of Cathay Pacific

The Cathay Pacific saga started on 9 August 2019 when the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) informed the airline that its staff members who had taken part in “illegal protests” and “violent actions” would be banned from China’s airspace beginning 10 August.

On 14 August, the airline fired two pilots and two ground personnel who had taken part in the recent protests. Two days later, Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg announced his resignation from the company.

On 20 August, the company reminded its employees that social media content expressing support for anti-government protests in Hong Kong could violate CAAC’s new policy. The warning not only covers public posts but also private conversations on Facebook, Telegram and other apps since these messages could be exposed through doxxing by pro-government trolls or China’s immigration checkpoints.

Cathay Dragon labor leader fired

Cathay Dragon fired Rebecca Sy, the chair of its Flight Attendant Union (FAU), after she confirmed that three screen captures of Facebook posts about the Hong Kong protests were from her account. Sy was still able to fly to Beijing and back to Hong Kong on 19 and 20 August. However, she was told not to work on a scheduled Hangzhou trip the following day.

FAU was one of the worker unions which participated in the 5 August general strike. Together with six other airline worker unions, the airport strike led to the cancellation of more than 200 flights. As head of the FAU, Sy has been vocal about her support of the protests.

The company said the decision to fire Sy was not related to her union activities but did not explain the reason behind her dismissal

Sy was not the only victim of what has been described as politically-motivated dismissal. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) said that at least 14 airline personnel had been sacked in relation to recent protests and eight of the cases were related with their online speech. The union coalition plans to stage a protest outside Cathay Pacific’s office building on 26 August.

‘White terror’

Sy described the crackdown on free speech as ‘white terror’:

This is not just about me. This is about the whole industry. This is about Hong Kong. When will this white terror end?

Any aviation safety professional must consider the CAAC mandated termination of the flight crews for nonviolent political expression as antithetical to the safety mission of a CAA. Loss of 200+ cabin crew members and possibly pilots can only diminish the safety of an airline.

There seems to be unnecessary for the FAA to instruct to instruct staff from the International Programs and Policy Division to Beijing to review the existing Category I status for the People’s Republic of  China CAAC. The safety body’s use of its safety powers for political purposes violates the principles of the FAA’s assessment criteria (IASA) and thus merits IMMEDIATE DOWNGRADE TO CATEGORY II.


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