The Cathay Pacific group has fired 2 cabin crew over the sabotage of oxygen bottles onboard a Cathay Dragon flight. The bottles are used by cabin crew in the event of depressurisation in order to move around the cabin.
The firings come after it was discovered a portable oxygen bottle on a Cathay Dragon KA730 from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong was in a “low-pressure state.” After the September 21 incident onboard an A330, Cathay Dragon suspended all crew on the flight while the airline undertook an investigation. Cathay also reported the incident to Hong Kong police.
This is the 7th case of oxygen bottle sabotage within the Cathay Group since August 17. The first incidents were discovered after 2 Cathay Pacific 777s landed at Toronto Pearson from Hong Kong. There have been a total of 3 incidents on Cathay Pacific flights, and an additional 3 on Cathay Dragon flights. All crew on those flights were also suspended while an internal investigation took place. Those that have been cleared have returned to duty while some are still assisting with the investigation.
The news comes while the airline has come under pressure from China to terminate staff that participate in the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Plus the resignation of the group’s CEO. Cathay Pacific and other airlines are also asking that landing and parking fees at Hong Kong Airport be waived due to the reduction in passenger numbers due to the protests.
First Cathay Pacific Press Release on Oxygen Bottles:
Friday, September 20, 2019 — In response to media queries, Cathay Pacific confirms it has informed the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD) and the Police of six instances where some portable oxygen bottles stored onboard the aircraft of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have been found to be in a low pressure state. The issues were all identified during routine inspections that are carried out before and after every flight.
Of the six instances, the latest one was identified during a routine inspection on Cathay Pacific flight CX502 which departed from Hong Kong to Osaka on 16 September. It involved a portable oxygen bottle that had its shut-off valve inadvertently opened during a routine check by cabin crew. This was also reported to HKCAD and the Police as a precautionary measure.
All affected oxygen bottles were immediately recharged and checked for serviceability by engineers prior to the next flight departures. At no point was the safety of our crew and passengers compromised.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are taking these issues very seriously and have launched an internal investigation into the incidents. The investigation team also followed up with all relevant parties.
The cabin crew of all concerned flights have been suspended from flight duties to facilitate the investigation process. Those who have been fully cleared have since resumed their flight duties, while some continue to assist in the investigation.
“Running a safe and secure operation is and always will be our greatest priority. We have robust pre-flight checks in place to identify any irregularities and to ensure all emergency equipment is serviceable so that the safety of our crew and passengers is upheld at all times,” said Richard Howell, General Manager Group Safety and Operational Risk Management for Cathay Pacific Group.
“Accordingly, we have further strengthened our security measures by adding inflight and post-landing checks for all of our flights. We have communicated with our cabin crew and employees the importance of maintaining impeccable safety standards at all times. There is no compromise in this area.”
The portable oxygen bottles are for operational cabin crew use and permit crew to move around the cabin in the unlikely event of emergency aircraft depressurisation. Both cabin crew and passengers have in-seat aircraft oxygen available at all times.
Instances were identified after arrival of the following flights and before the departure of the next flights:
September 16 CX502 Hong Kong-Osaka (1 bottle out of 20, shut-off valve inadvertently opened during a routine check by cabin crew.)
September 4 KA221 Da Nang-Hong Kong (1 bottle out of 7)
September 1 KA459 Kaohsiung-Hong Kong (1 bottle out of 16)
August 30 KA361 Bali-Hong Kong (1 bottle out of 16)
August 18 CX826 Hong Kong-Toronto (8 bottles out of 22)
August 17 CX826 Hong Kong-Toronto (5 bottles out of 22)
Cathay Pacific Statement on the firing of crew members:
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 — Cathay Dragon confirms that one of the sixteen portable oxygen bottles stored onboard an Airbus A330 aircraft was found to be in a low-pressure state. The airline identified the issue during a routine inspection on Cathay Dragon flight KA730, which departed from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong on 21 September.
The affected oxygen bottle was replaced prior to its next flight departure. At no point was the safety of our crew and passengers compromised.
Cathay Dragon immediately reported the case to the Hong Kong Police, who have launched a parallel investigation into the matter. The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD) has been informed.
The airline is taking the issue very seriously. All cabin crew have been suspended from flight duties to facilitate the investigation. Based on the results of the investigation, two cabin crew members have had their employment terminated.
Safety and security are always our greatest priority. Cathay Dragon has further strengthened its security measures by imposing additional checks before, during and after flights on top of the usual pre-flight checks for all flights.
The portable oxygen bottles are for operational cabin crew use and permit cabin crew to move around the cabin in the unlikely event of emergency aircraft depressurisation. Both cabin crew and passengers have in-seat aircraft oxygen available at all times, which is independent of the portable bottles.