HONG KONG, May 23 (Reuters) – Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) said it fired three flight attendants after a passenger accused them of bias against non-English speakers, prompting criticism in the Chinese state media and the leader of Hong Kong swore it. would not happen again.
Cathay said the experience of passengers traveling on her CX987 flight from the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu to Hong Kong on Sunday had caused “widespread concern” and said she sincerely apologized .
The airline fired three flight attendants involved after an internal investigation, CEO Ronald Lam said.
“I want to reiterate that Cathay Pacific takes a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to serious violations of company rules and ethics by individual employees and will not tolerate them,” Lam said.
It added that it would lead a cross-departmental task force to conduct a comprehensive review of service processes, staff training and related systems to improve the quality of its service.
“Most importantly, we must ensure that all Cathay Pacific staff respect passengers from different backgrounds and cultures and provide professional and consistent service in all areas served,” Lam said.
A passenger on the flight from Chengdu wrote in an online post that flight attendants complained to each other about passengers in English and Cantonese. They said the flight attendants made fun of others for asking for a mat instead of an English blanket.
“If you can’t say blanket in English, you can’t have it. … The carpet is on the floor. Feel free if you want to lie on it,” a flight attendant said, according to a recording that has been widely distributed online. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the clip, which sparked criticism on social media.
Hong Kong’s flagship carrier has been trying to rebuild itself as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been hit hard by COVID-related flight cancellations, border closures and strict quarantine measures for crew, resulting in drastic staff reductions since 2020.
Hong Kong chief executive John Lee said on Wednesday the incident of discrimination was serious and could not happen again.
“The flight attendants’ words and actions have hurt the feelings of compatriots in Hong Kong and the mainland and destroyed Hong Kong’s traditional culture and values of respect and courtesy,” he said, according to a message on his Facebook.
The Cathay flight attendants union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an online comment, the Chinese state-owned People’s Daily said it was shocked by the incident against Mandarin-speaking passengers and criticized Cathay’s corporate culture of “loving foreigners and respecting people”. Hong Kongers” but look down on mainlanders.
“Cathay Pacific cannot just apologize every time, but should strongly rectify, establish rules and regulations and stop the unhealthy trend at the root,” he said.
The newspaper went on to say that the level of Mandarin in Hong Kong was improving “by leaps and bounds”.
“In Hong Kong, the opposite trend of loving English and despising Mandarin is doomed to disappear.” says the newspaper.
Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Sharon Singleton
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