Shares in Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) tanked in Monday trading after the airline bowed to pressure from China to fire staff that protested against a bill that allows authorities in Hong Kong to extradite locals to mainland China.
Cathay Pacific’s stock price fell more than 4%, keeping the Hang Seng index (^HSI) from making substantial gains.
On Friday, China's Civil Aviation Administration said it will ban Cathay Pacific staff from supporting or participating in "illegal demonstrations, protests and violent attacks, as well as those who have had radical behaviours" from working on flights.
Consequently, Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg wrote in a memo to employees that the company is legally required to comply with China's aviation authority. He confirmed that staff would be "immediately suspended" from any flights or "air transportation" activity involving mainland China, if they were involved in protests, and added:
"Our primary focus must remain on delivering a safe, comfortable customer experience for everyone who chooses to fly with us. At the same time, we always try to create a safe, supportive environment for all Cathay Pacific Group employees. Though people may share different views, it is essential that we all respect each other, our customers and members of the public."
Cathay Pacific has, so far, sacked two employees and suspended a pilot.
Later on Monday, Hong Kong International Airport confirmed it has cancelled departing flights amid the swathes of anti-government protests in its main terminal.
It is the fourth day that thousands have gathered to protest against the actions of police, which have fired tear gas and non-lethal ammunition at close range into the public who are protesting against the extradition bill.