Cathay Pacific to hire cabin crew from mainland China after discrimination scandal

'Culture training' will also be extended to employees, say reports

Cathay Pacific to hire cabin crew from mainland China after discrimination scandal

Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific will be hiring cabin crew from mainland China following a discrimination scandal last month that saw three employees sacked, according to reports.

The airline did not indicate how many cabin crews will be hired but said its measures will be launched in July, according to a Reuters report.

"Widening our crew's Putonghua coverage is a key objective under this initiative, given the increasing proportion of our customers who speak Putonghua," said Cathay CEO Ronald Lam in an internal memo seen by Reuters. Putonghua refers to a modern standardised form of Mandarin Chinese.

The announcement added that the airline would also be providing "culture training" to all cabin crew.

Discrimination scandal

The measures were unveiled after Lam previously vowed to lead a review of the company's service process and personnel training after three employees were sacked in June for making fun of non-English speakers.

The employees, who were flight attendants, complained amongst themselves about passengers in English and Cantonese, according to a Cathay Pacific passenger.

"If you cannot say blanket in English, you cannot have it... Carpet is on the floor. Feel free if you want to lie on it," said one of the flight attendants involved in a recording that circulated online.

Criticism against Cathay

The incident drew the attention of Hong Kong's high-ranking leaders, including Chief Executive John Lee.

"The words and deeds of the flight attendants 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 in a statement quoted by The Standard.

Hong Kong Transport and Logistics Secretary Lam Sai-Hung added that the "inappropriate comments" made by the cabin crew members "distressed" him.

"The incident is a serious breach of Hong Kong's reputation for service excellence, long-standing values and ethical standards," he said in a statement.

Following the incident, Lam said the airline takes a "zero-tolerance" approach to serious violations of company rules and ethics.

"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," he said in a statement. 

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