Three Cathay Pacific Crew Members Face Bribery Charges

Three Cathay Pacific flight attendants have been charged with accepting bribes. According to the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, the three defendants accepted bribes totaling over HK$98,000 (~US$12,600) over staff travel benefits. Their court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, May 25th.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350
Three flight attendants, either currently working or previously working for Cathay Pacific, face bribery charges. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Three Cathay Pacific flight attendants charged

The ICAC announced that three former and serving employees of Cathay Pacific have been charged with accepting bribes. The employees reportedly received the hefty sums for nominating a woman and her friends as traveling companions to enjoy staff benefits in purchasing air tickets.

One of the defendants is a former flight purser at Cathay Pacific. One is a currently serving flight attendant, and the other is a former flight attendant. The purser faces four counts of conspiracy for an agent to accept advantage. The two flight attendants are jointly charged with the purser in two of the charges.

Cathay Pacific A350
The flight attendants will have a court appearance on Tuesday. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The allegations of bribery

The three employees are alleged to have abused the “Companion Travel Scheme” that Cathay Pacific offers. Under the scheme, airline employees can nominate a partner, sibling, family member, or a friend to be a traveling companion. That companion can purchase airfare on Cathay Pacific and its partner airlines at concessionary rates.

Two of the charges allege that, on two occasions between January 1st, 2018, and February 20th, 2019, the purser conspired with another woman. The purser allegedly received around HK$20,000 (~US$2,600) and at least HK$12,000 (~US$1,500) as an inducement to or reward for the purser to nominate the woman as her traveling companion.

Another charge alleges that between December 17th, 2018 and June 19th, 2019, the purser and one flight attendant conspired together with the same woman for the flight attendant to accept around HK$39,000 (~US$5,000) as an inducement to or reward for the flight attendant to nominate a friend of the woman as their traveling companion.

Cathay Pacific
The bribery allegations cover allegations from 2018 and 2019. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The final charge alleges that between January 3rd and 23rd of 2019, the purser and second flight attendant conspired together with the same woman from the first two counts for the flight attendant to accept around HK$27,000 (~US$3,500) as an inducement to or reward for the second flight attendant to nominate another friend of the woman as the second flight attendant’s traveling companion.

The receiving of monetary payment in exchange for such nominations is prohibited under Cathay Pacific’s policies. It is alleged that Cathay Pacific suffered a financial loss of over HK$1.16 million (~US$149,000) involving 75 sectors of tickets.

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Employee privileges

It is not unusual for airlines to offer their employees and their family members some incentives, discounts, or rewards for flying with the carrier. However, abusing such privileges and receiving monetary gain goes well against airline policies for such incentives.

Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific alleges the abuse has caused the airline to lose revenue. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Attempting to bribe employees can also come with punishments, and passengers found doing so may face consequences. The ICAC did not release information that they are also investing the woman and her friends who paid out the bribes. The trial on Tuesday is focused on the three current or former Cathay Pacific employees.

What do you make of the bribery allegations against the employees? Let us know in the comments!

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