File photo. Photograph:( AFP )
As the airline came under fire from Beijing, chief executive Rupert Hogg warned its staff that they could be fired if they 'support or participate in illegal protests'.
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific on Monday warned its staff against supporting the pro-democracy protests that hit the semi-autonomous financial hub since June.
As the airline came under fire from Beijing, chief executive Rupert Hogg in a message to its staff warned that they could be fired if they "support or participate in illegal protests".
"Cathay Pacific Group has a zero tolerance approach to illegal activities. Specifically, in the current context, there will be disciplinary consequences for employees who support or participate in illegal protests," Hogg wrote.
"These consequences could be serious and may include termination of employment."
He also reminded his staff that the "actions and words of our employees made outside of working hours can have a significant effect on the company."
For the past two months, Hong Kong has been embroiled in increasingly violent anti-government street protests, which a Chinese official described last week as the greatest crisis since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
The Cathay pilot, whom the company did not name, was among over 40 people charged with rioting, during clashes with police near Beijing's main representative office in the city.
The airline moved fast to comply with the demand from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and suspended the pilot. It also fired two airport employees citing misconduct on Saturday.
In a separate memo on Saturday, Hogg told staff that in order to comply with the new regulatory demands it would not allow any crew supporting protests in Hong Kong to staff flights to the mainland from midnight on Aug. 10.
Passenger traffic in mainland China, Europe and North America accounted for over 50% of all Cathay's traffic in the first half of this year, according to Jefferies data.
(With inputs from agencies)