Chinese state-owned companies restrict staff from flying with Cathay Pacific

A number of Hong Kong branches of state-owned financial institutions, including China Huarong International Holdings, have issued notices in recent days which bar their employees from taking Cathay Pacific flights for business trips, a source close to the matter told the Global Times on Monday. The airline came under rising fire now for supporting anti-government riots in Hong Kong.

China Huarong International Holdings said, in an internal email from its administrative office to its employees on Friday, that the company requested all employees do not choose flights opearted by Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon when “options from other airlines are available,” according to some screenshots that have been circulated on China‘s social media platforms in recent days. A source close to the matter, who spoke with the Global Times on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the email. 

China Huarong International Holdings is the Hong Kong branch of the state-owned financial institution China Huarong. And the order, which applies to all of its employees, takes effect on Friday. 

“When employees are on a private trip, we also suggest you avoid flights of Cathay Pacific/ Cathay Dragon,” the email said. China Huarong has not responded to the interview request of the Global Times as of press time. 

“In fact, not only Huarong, but also other state-owned enterprises have issued similar notices,” the source said. 

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The boycott comes after Chinese civil aviation authorities issued a major air safety warning to Cathay Pacific on Friday, which pointed out that its flight personnel participated in violent street protests, posing a serious threat to aviation safety. 

Industry insiders said the move shows that China Huarong prioritizes the personal security of its employees, as cabin crew members could be rioters and secessionists who may conduct violent onboard attacks that put passengers‘ safety at risk. 

Chinese public anger toward the air carrier began to germinate after Cathay Pacific‘s trade union called for a protest at the Hong Kong International Airport on July 26. Such dissatisfaction further mounted after a pilot, who was arrested for participating in riots, was still allowed to fly, and a staff member leaked police officers‘ flight information.  

Some Chinese netizens praised decisions by Huarong on China‘s social media platforms, and said it is time for more efforts to punish companies that condones violence and separatism.

A Chinese expert said Huarong and other Chinese companies‘ actions could be intended to show their disapproval to Cathay Pacific‘s weak stance regarding challenges to China‘s sovereignty. 

“China needs enterprises like [China Huarong] to crack down on those enterprises that ‘bring calamity to the country‘ through real actions,” said a Weibo user named pigyuan.

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