Cathay Warns Staff That Social Media Use May Breach China Rules

(Bloomberg) -- Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., trying to contain the damage it has suffered from staff taking part in Hong Kong’s anti-Beijing protests, cautioned employees that misuse of social-media platforms could be a breach of rules set by China’s authorities.

In a message to employees, Cathay said that posting, responding and sharing content on social media could go against the demands the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued to the carrier this month. Any breach of the rules will be investigated and addressed quickly, the airline said.

“Employees should always exercise caution about how their social media usage may be relevant to their own employment, the welfare of others and the business,” Cathay said in the notice to workers. “Any employee who participates in illegal activities will be subject to an investigation process which may lead to termination of their employment.”

Cathay has been going through a volatile month that led to the naming of a new chief executive officer Friday, a week after China imposed a swathe of demands on the airline for its workers’ participation in Hong Kong’s months-long protests. Chinese state-owned firms have also started boycotting the airline, raising further concerns that the demonstrations in the city could undermine the company’s efforts to turn around its business.

China’s aviation authority this month barred Cathay staff who took part in or supported the demonstrations from flying to the mainland and demanded the carrier provide a plan for improving flight safety and security. Last week, the regulator said the airline had complied with its demands. Cathay generates about half of its revenue from operations in Hong Kong and China.

The airline said Wednesday that it expects “significant impact” on its revenue from August and beyond as travel demand gets affected by the protests. Both business and leisure travel into Hong Kong has “weakened substantially” and traffic from the city has started to soften, especially on short-haul routes to China and South Korea, Cathay said.

A pilot left Cathay in relation to comments he made about a rally at Hong Kong’s airport, although the airline didn’t say whether he resigned or was fired. That’s on top of two other cockpit crew that were fired earlier this month.

Most of Cathay’s about 32,800 workers are based in Hong Kong, whose airport has become a key site for the protesters. Last week, demonstrators occupying key buildings prompted the airport to shut down, forcing Cathay and other airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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