According to Reuters (Hong Kong/Beijing) China’s aviation regulator today has demanded Cathay Pacific to suspend crew members, who were involved in illegal protests in Hong Kong, from operating flights into China’s airspace from 10th August, including flights bound for other destinations.

Tracing Back…

  • There has been anti-government protest in Hong Kong for the past two months.
  • A Cathay Pacific pilot was being charged with rioting last week for allegedly being involved in violent clashes with the local police, which happened nearby Beijing’s main representative office in Hong Kong.
  • According to Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, 1200 Cathay Pacific cabin crew and pilots took part in the strike on Monday (5th August). More than 150 flights were cancelled.

More About The Order From China’s Aviation Regulator Today

The statement, released by Civil Aviation Administration of China, today mentioned that the crew members who were involved in the protests pose a threat to aviation safety in mainland China. The Chinese regulator is requiring Cathay to provide crew identification information for flights entering China’s airspace.

Response From Cathay Pacific

Response on Monday’s Strike

During the press conference on Monday, Cathay chairman John Slosar said that “we certainly wouldn’t dream of telling them what they have to think about something. They’re all adults, they’re all service professionals. We respect them greatly.”

Response on Today’s Demand From China’s Aviation Regulator

From the spokesperson of Cathay Pacific:

“We have received the directive and are studying it very carefully. We are treating it seriously and are following up accordingly.”

“The safety of our passengers is always the top priority of Cathay Pacific. There is zero tolerance for any inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour that may affect aviation safety. We deal with these incidents very seriously.”

Commentary: Implication Involved in This Order

Flight Information Region In North Asia. Credit: AMTI

Taking into account of “One Country Two Systems”, it is unclear at this stage if the order that is kicking in on 10th August will involve Hong Kong FIR. North and East bound flights out of Hong Kong are likely to be affected.

On a side note, it is also worth noting that Cathay is 22.7% owned by Air China.

Updates on 10th August – Day 1 of Implementation

  • No noticeable delay and cancellations
  • Cathay Pacific advises crew members to anticipate an increase in checks and different kinds of checks on both ground and flight operations.
  • Two airport ground staff were sacked over information leak pertaining travel arrangement of a Hong Kong police soccer team who is bound for Chengdu.