Cathay Pacific confirmed late on Wednesday that it had sacked two pilots who had been involved in Hong Kong’s anti-ELAB protest movement. Both pilots had previously been suspended by the airline over their involvement in the protests. Earlier, Cathay Pacific had issued a strongly worded statement condemning “disruptive behaviour” and called for “social order and stability” to be returned in Hong Kong. “In response to media enquiries, Cathay Pacific confirms that two pilots have been terminated in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment contracts,” the airline said in a terse statement posted to its website. One of the pilots had been arrested on suspicion of rioting and is currently on bail pending a court hearing while the other was accused of misuing company information to leak sensitive passenger information. Attempting to distance itself from the anti-ELAB movement, the statement continued: “Cathay Pacific wishes to make it clear that we express no view whatsoever on the subject matter of any ongoing proceedings. Cathay Pacific reiterates that it abides by the rules and regulations of all regulators that have jurisdiction over us.” Cathay Pacific, which is majority-owned by British conglomerate Swire Pacific, has become one of the most high profile corporate victims of Beijing’s anger of the protests that have gripped Hong Kong for weeks and which brought its international airport to a grinding halt for two straight days. The airline’s share price plunged to a 10-year low earlier this week but have since rebounded following a major policy shift that saw both Swire and Cathay publicly siding with Beijing. In response to media enquiries, Cathay Pacific confirms that two pilots have been terminated in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment contracts. A highly scripted statement denounced the protests and backed the efforts of the Hong Kong government and police to restore the status quo: “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.”
Previously, the airline had tried to remain ambivalent to the protest movement and had told its staff that it would not pass judgement on their involvement. In recent days, however, Cathay has taken a much tougher stance and issued strict rules for staffers to abide by. Cathay Pacific said it would fully abide by rules imposed by China’s civil aviation authority which includes sharing the details of all crew members who are operating on flights to and from mainland China, as well as through Chinese air space. Crew members who have been identified as taking part in the protests will not be allowed to operate these services. The airline said it had been forced to cancel 272 flights after thousands of protestors staged a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport on Monday and Tuesday, forcing airport authorities to close check-in and security screening. Cathay estimates that around 55,000 passengers were disrupted.