Hong Kong's flag carrying airline Cathay Pacific has sacked two staff members and suspended another due to conduct related to recent protests in the city.
Two airport-based staff were fired for allegedly leaking the travel information of members of the Hong Kong police force, and a pilot who had taken part in street protests has been stood down from all duties.
This follows on from the Civil Aviation Administration of China saying that Cathay crew who engaged in protests posed a threat to aviation safety in mainland China on Friday night.
Hong Kong has been embroiled in increasingly violent anti-government street protests for the past two months, which a top Chinese official described this week as the greatest crisis since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Last week, a Cathay pilot was among over 40 people charged with rioting for allegedly taking part in violent clashes with the police near Beijing’s main representative office in the city.
The Chinese aviation authority ordered Cathay to provide identification information for its crew on mainland-bound flights.
Crew members that have not gained the authority's approval will not be allowed into its airspace, including on flights bound for other destinations.
Destinations affected by the Chinese airspace staff restrictions:
- Abu Dhabi
- Tel Aviv
The airline has also been ordered to draw up proposals to strengthen safety and security, according to the statement.
In response, a Cathay Pacific spokesperson said: "We have received the directive and are studying it very carefully. We are treating it seriously and are following up accordingly."
"The safety of our passengers is always the top priority of Cathay Pacific. There is zero tolerance for any inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour that may affect aviation safety. We deal with these incidents very seriously."
Cathay said on Thursday it respects "everyone's right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner," while insisting it "recognises that Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) is a part of China".
"We do not condone any activities that jeopardise the stability of Hong Kong," it said.
On Monday aviation workers joined a strike that gridlocked Hong Kong, forcing airlines, including Cathay, to cancel hundreds of flights.