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China’s CAAC (“FAA”) demands Cathay Pacific Airlines suspend staff

Chinese aviation authorities, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has demanded that the Hong Kong-based Airline Cathay Pacific remove some staff from their post, including a pilot.

The CAAC deemed those on the Cathay-staff engaged in the Hong Kong protests “a security threat” to aviation safety.

China’s CAAC has ordered Cathay Pacific to provide identification for its crew on mainland bound flights. Crewmembers who have not gained the authority’s approval will be denied entry into Chinese airspace to complete their scheduled flights.

The airline has been deemed by the CAAC to be “too supportive” of the Hong Kong protests. The protests have continued over 2 consecutive months at the Hong Kong Asian financial center.

China's CAAC (FAA) demands Cathay Pacific Airlines suspend staff
The website for the CAAC, the U.S. FAA-equivalent for China.

Beijing’s most significant move against a large corporation over the Hong Kong Protests

The action is China’s most significant move yet towards a corporation based in Hong Kong. The authority said starting August 11, 2019, personnel involved and supporting the demonstrations should cease flying to the mainland activities related to air transportation in continental China.

A Cathay spokesperson stated:

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

While Cathay has been diversifying flights away from the Chinese mainland it is still vulnerable. One-fifth of their schedule are towards mainland China.

China versus Hong Kong and the rest of the world in terms of opinion

As usual, the political views are split between people on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong with the rest of the world.

Chinese on the mainland want Cathay Pacific to be placed on a blacklist to prevent them from flying to Continental China. Mainland Chinese also want any demonstration-involved crewmembers prosecuted.

The people of Hong Kong and the rest of the world is asking to let the pilot free. They also want Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive (the highest “political position” in Hong Kong) to resign.

Cathay Pacific service. Credit: Cathay Pacific/YouTube.

My opinion on the matter

This is my first article as a journalist since the Puerto Rico protests that took a governor out of office. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court took another “governor” that was in place without the consent or approval of the Senate in Puerto Rico.

China is sadly mistaken if it believes that protesting for democracy is the same as terrorism. They are also on the wrong side of history. Just compare to what happened with the Tiananmen Square Protests in early summer 1989.

China versus Cathay Pacific

The international aviation community should be ashamed and join Cathay Pacific efforts. It would be interesting to see if they would prosecute pilots from other countries as well, including U.S. pilots.

Air China is part-owner of Cathay Pacific by 30%. Having a partner outside of China, like a Qatar Airways or the Anglo-Spanish Consortium of IAG or American Airlines or Latam would have helped their cause in this particular case.

It would be interesting to see whether a Oneworld partner (or multiple partners) would be willing to help Cathay free themselves from Air China’s influence.

A violation of the Sino-British Joint Agreement

Although the issue is a domestic Chinese matter, the Sino-British Joint Agreement has clearly been violated.

It is the opinion of the author the United Kingdom Foreign Office, along with its Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) should start proceedings in the International Criminal Court, referred by the United Nations Security Council.

My thanks to Trefor Moss and the wall Street Journal for their article.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

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