Cathay Pacific has taken more drastic action against members of their staff, firing two – this time cabin crew – who were found to have engaged in sabotage on board of Cathay’s flight.
Cathay Pacific is currently battling disgruntled staff on various fronts including long looming pay disputes as well as most recently managements stance in bowing to Chinese government pressure to sanction employees who engage in or support the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Emotions over these issues apparently led several cabin crew members to engage in sabotage and empty oxygen bottles onboard Cathay’s flights (not the stationary oxygen supply for passengers during emergency).
The South China Morning Post reported that Cathay has now found at least two culprits and fired them.
The Cathay Pacific Group has fired two cabin crew members over an oxygen bottle which was found tampered with aboard one of its planes, the company confirmed, as it revealed that a seventh depressurised canister was uncovered last Saturday.
Hong Kong’s biggest airline group said two flight attendants “had their employment terminated,” with a spokeswoman adding it could not release any more information about employee matters.
The firings, the first since a spate of oxygen tank incidents began, related to a bottle on a Cathay Dragon flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong, which was found to be partially emptied on September 21. It was unclear what the motive for the apparent sabotage was.
Of the latest incident, the airline said: “Cathay Dragon immediately reported the case to the Hong Kong Police, who have launched a parallel investigation into the matter. The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD) has been informed.” …
Crew members typically use the canisters to move around the cabin in the rare event of an emergency depressurisation.
The CAD, Hong Kong’s aviation regulator, noted that the first six cases were uncovered either before or after a flight. The seventh, however, emerged during a mid-flight inspection, of the kind which both Cathay carriers had made hourly.
Police confirmed they were investigating, adding that no arrests had been made.
The suspected sabotage of life-saving cabin equipment added to a litany of problems faced by Hong Kong’s largest airline group, which includes cancelled bookings amid domestic unrest. Cathay Pacific has also had to contend with a safety warning from the mainland regulator, which prompted a collapse in demand for flights on its mainland Chinese routes, which make up a fifth of all its daily flights.
It makes no sense to my why a member of the cabin crew would sabotage equipment that in case of emergency is there to save their own life!? The passengers will have oxygen supply from the oxygen masks above them but the crew relies on these portable bottles.
Obviously the investigation of mainland Chinese authorities is a joke and just designed to pressure Cathay even more, forcing them to come down hard on dissenting staff. Even with tampered oxygen bottles any Cathay flight is likely much safer overall compared to a flight operated by Air China or China Eastern which are probably still two of the best.
Nevertheless, disgruntled staff has to stay away from sabotaging safety equipment and anything that impacts the operational integrity of the aircraft. No matter if it affects passengers or crew. Lack of oxygen during emergency situations can have a lethal outcome quite quickly. It’s one thing to go on strike or call in sick but endangering lives crosses a line.
According to other reports Cathay has also suspended other crew members who were currently assisting in the investigation. I doubt only two individuals were involved here and those who are responsible for the sabotage will most certainly be out of a job at best and face prosecution for their actions at worst.
Cathay is in a tough spot at the moment. We reported about their dropping demand and revenue rates all while foreign airlines also asked HKIA to slash the landing fees amid falling passenger numbers. Even before these problems Cathay had financial difficulties but now they really face a problem and have already responded by cutting several routes.