Mon. Jan 24th, 2022


Cathay Pacific slammed back after Hong Kong leader blamed the airline for the area’s first Omicron outbreak, even as her government fought a scandal over a karaoke party attended by senior officials.

Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam has a investigation into Cathay in connection with crew violating pandemic regulations and warned Tuesday that the city’s flag airline could face legal action.

But Patrick Healy, chairman of Cathay, said in a video to staff released late Tuesday night that the “non-compliance of this small minority should not be allowed to undermine the remarkable discipline and professionalism of the overwhelming majority of Cathay Pacific- to overshadow crew over so many months “.

Healy’s remarks came as Lam tried to defend her strict pandemic policy after more than 10 top officials attended a 200-person birthday party last week. In an embarrassment to the government, officials violated guidelines to avoid large gatherings and two guests tested positive for Covid-19.

The karaoke party scandal and heightened pressure on Cathay put the spotlight on the area’s sustainability “zero-covid” approach and the future of the carrier. The airline’s share price has fallen more than 10 percent to HK $ 6.45 ($ 0.83) over the past two months.

Healy said he was “back aware that a small number of our crew had brought the company into disrepute by violating self-isolation rules”. He added that “we have publicly apologized for the disruption and anxiety caused by this non-compliance” and will co-operate with the inquiry.

Healy said teams will spend more than 73,000 nights in quarantine facilities by 2021 to prevent community infections.

Cathay’s passenger and freight revenue has been slashed after Hong Kong implemented some of the world’s toughest measures outside mainland China, with a three-week quarantine for most incoming travelers.

The pressure then worsened passenger flights banned of eight countries, including the UK, last Wednesday. Cathay was also forced to significantly reduce its cargo flights due to tightened crew quarantine requirements.

While authorities tried to contain the outbreak of the birthday party, which is also being investigated, newspapers in the city with ties to the central government in Beijing an appeal for punitive action teen Cathay.

More than a dozen lawmakers who also attended the karaoke party were absent from the Chinese territory’s first “patriots only” legislative session Wednesday because they were either under self-isolation or mandatory quarantine. Hong Kong recently revised its electoral rules to ensure that only “patriots” can serve in the city’s de facto parliament. Most of the opposition in the House have since replaced pro-Beijing lawmakers.

Officials ordered into solitary confinement at the government-run Penny’s Bay quarantine camp include Interior Minister Caspar Tsui.

The Chinese territory recorded nearly 300 cases of the Omicron variant, most of which were imported and detected during isolation. But a Cathay crew member who visited a restaurant during home quarantine last month and later tested positive for Omicron caused an outbreak.

“The attacks on Cathay can also be extended to [Carrie Lam] herself and ask that she should bear managerial responsibility. . . especially among those who do not want her to seek a second term, ”said Ivan Choy, a political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Lamb and pro-Beijing figures attacked an arrangement that allowed some Cathay flight crews to overcome strict quarantine requirements by flying on a passenger flight and returning on an empty passenger plane dropped off as a cargo flight. Freight personnel were also until recently exempt from week-long quarantines.

Many of the carrier’s crew have suffered a mental toll from their jobs, with some claiming to be in “permanent quarantine”. Pilots said last month that dozens of their colleagues had stopped and many were on stress leave.



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