Cathay Pacific has confirmed that it is now investigating six separate incidents in which emergency crew oxygen bottles have been found empty or partially depleted during routine inspections. The oxygen bottles should only be used by cabin crew in the event of a decompression and under normal conditions are expected to remain fully charged for months at a time.
The first two incidents came to light early last month when oxygen bottles on two different Cathay Pacific aircraft were found depleted at Toronto Pearson airport in Canada. At the time, the Hong Kong-based carrier said the apparently tampered with oxygen bottles were discovered before departure and were replaced immediately.
A third incident was then uncovered a few days later on a plane operated by regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon. In total, 14 emergency crew oxygen bottles had been found empty.
It has now been revealed that even more oxygen bottles have been in an empty or partially empty state. The latest incident occurred on the 16th September when a member of cabin crew accidentally opened the oxygen supply during a routine check. Including this occurrence brings the total number of incidents to six in less than two months
“Running a safe and secure operation is and always will be our greatest priority,” commented Richard Howell, Cathay Pacific’s manager of safety in response to media enquiries.
“We have robust pre-flight checks in place to identify any irregularities and to ensure all emergency equipment is serviceable so that the safety of our crew and passengers is upheld at all times,” he continued.
Since the first incident in August, Cathay Pacific has introduced enhanced security and safety checks which includes crew checking the serviceability of all oxygen bottles both pre and post-flight. The airline has also ordered cabin crew to conduct more inflight security checks, including checking lavatories every 30 minutes and monitoring passenger behaviour.
Along with an ongoing internal investigation, the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department and Hong Kong police have been called in and it’s understood that China’s civil aviation authority is also monitoring the investigation. All the cabin crew who were working on the affected flights were suspended, although some have now been cleared to fly.
Cathay Pacific says some flight attendants remain grounded so that they can “assist in the investigation”.
A couple of days ago, it was claimed that as many as 200 cabin crew had been sacked in recent weeks over their involvement in the so-called ‘anti-ELAB’ protest movement. The airline said in response to the allegations that it did not routinely comment on internal staff matter but that 200 dismissals was inaccurate.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.