Cathay Pacific has fired a “small number” of unvaccinated cabin crew who failed to provide medical exemption proof by the August 31 deadline.
The airline said in June that it would terminate the contracts of cabin crew who could not provide their inoculation records or offer medical reasons for not receiving jabs.
Up to 80 unvaccinated cabin crew were in the firing line as Cathay began disciplinary proceedings against them on September 1, sources said.
In a reply yesterday, Cathay’s spokesman said the airline decided to terminate unvaccinated cabin crew who could not provide medical exemption proof.
“It’s clear to us all now that Covid-19 is a terrible virus and that keeping our customers, communities and families safe is of the utmost importance,” the e-mail read.
“The pandemic has also had a huge impact on us operationally and border controls around the world have dramatically reduced our ability to operate with unvaccinated aircrew.”
Cathay reiterated that it had been operating all its flights with fully vaccinated cabin crew since September 1.
The Staff and Workers Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines said it had yet to receive a request for assistance from Cathay cabin crew.
But some of the airline’s ground crew had reached out to the union, it said.
“Even though the ground crew is still a month away from the October 1 deadline to get vaccinated, those who are unable to do so for medical reasons are already required to submit medical exemption proof,” the union said. “Those who cannot submit the proof are currently on on-term leave.”
Writing to Cathay chief executive Augustus Tang Kin-wing, the union and seven others expressed concern that the airline would indiscriminately sack its employees.
The unions said Cathay’s decision to sack unvaccinated cabin crew reflected the airline’s lack of compassion.
“The airline could have handled the situation better by dispatching involved employees to non-cabin crew or non-ground crew positions,” they said.
By early this month, 93 percent of Cathay’s 13,500 Hong Kong-based staff had booked or received vaccinations, the airline said.
Among them are 99 percent of pilots and 93 percent of flight attendants.
Last month, Cathay also required all SAR-based staff and contractors to be fully vaccinated before accessing the Hong Kong International Airport’s restricted areas from October 1.
From December 1, staff working outside the Hong Kong International Airport’s restricted areas or in other Cathay premises have to be jabbed as well.