BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways <0293.HK> said it had suspended with immediate effect on Tuesday a second officer operating flight CX216 for misuse of company information, and had also commenced internal disciplinary proceedings.
The flight was on Monday, it said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
The airline did not provide further details, but the Global Times, published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, reported earlier on Tuesday that an anonymous message was posted online encouraging protesters to keep protesting at the Hong Kong airport and was accompanied by a picture of a cockpit.
The picture, which was also carried by other Chinese media, showed a cockpit screen that belonged to flight CX216, which was flying out of Manchester to Hong Kong.
Cathay got caught in the tussle between Beijing and pro-democracy groups in the Asian financial hub on Friday after China’s civil aviation regulator demanded the airline suspend personnel who engaged in or supported illegal protests in Hong Kong from staffing flights into its airspace.
The airline over the weekend moved to comply with the demand from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), suspending a pilot arrested during anti-government protests in Hong Kong and firing two airport employees citing misconduct.
Shares in Cathay fell to a 10-year-low on Monday and tumbled lower still on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu in BEIJING and Brenda Goh in HONGKONG; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)