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Cathay Pacific Starts Hiring Flight Attendants in Mainland China For the First Time in its History

Cathay Pacific Starts Hiring Flight Attendants in Mainland China For the First Time in its History

a group of people in an airplane

Cathay Pacific has held its first-ever cabin crew recruitment event in mainland China, following a highly embarrassing incident in May when Cantonese-speaking flight attendants were accused of mocking Chinese passengers over their English language proficiency.

Chief executive Ronald Lam said the time was right to start hiring mainland Chinese cabin crew because it reflected the importance of the Chinese market for the Hong Kong-based airline.

Specifically, Cathay Pacific is keen to hire Putonghua-speaking cabin crew who can communicate easily with mainland Chinese customers, compared to Hong Kong-based crew who speak Cantonese.

Putonghua is the official language of mainland China and is a form of Mandarin, which is also referred to as ‘Standard Chinese’. It is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin.

In 2023 alone, Cathay Pacific intends to hire between 200 to 300 cabin crew from mainland China, but the number of flight attendants from the mainland could swell to between 1,000 and 2,000 within the next two years.

Cathay Pacific is also hiring cadet pilots, ground employees and customer service staff from the mainland in an effort to create a “diverse and inclusive Cathay family”.

The airline faced fierce criticism in mainland China earlier this year when a Cantonese-speaking flight attendant was filmed mocking a mainland Chinese passenger when they asked for a blanket on a flight from Chengdu.

The passenger accidentally used the English word for ‘rug’ rather than ‘blanket’, leading the flight attendant to tell the passenger that they couldn’t have a blanket unless they used the correct word.

Cathay Pacific quickly dismissed the flight attendants and promised more diversity training, but it was made clear to the airline that further action, like integrating mainland Chinese staff into the business, was necessary.

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