A crackdown on Cathay Pacific Airways flight attendants over the weekend led to six crew members being caught red-handed pocketing everything from cutlery to bottles of booze. They have been placed under investigation.
Petty theft at Hong Kong's biggest airline had been treated as a perk in the past but employees were warned in January about the "unfortunate increasing trend of company property discrepancies" and were told that there would be spot checks at the airport.
“In view of an increasing number of reported losses of company property, we have informed our cabin crew that random inspections will be carried out,” a company spokeswoman told South China Morning Post. “We are dealing with cases in a fair and reasonable manner in accordance with standard internal procedure.”
Ed Higgs, general manager of in-flight services for the airline, said employees would be inspected by a security team on leaving an aircraft “for any items that you may have in your possession when you have been or are on company property."
One of the most popular items lifted are small containers of Häagen-Dazs ice cream that are served in-flight. Several members of the cabin crew are said to have large freezers at home packed with the product, the newspaper reported.
The six employees caught over the weekend at Hong Kong International Airport were a mix of senior and junior crew members. They were placed under investigation on Saturday and face disciplinary action which could include termination.
This isn't the first time the issue of employee theft has dogged the airline. In 1993, flight attendants went on a crippling three-week strike to demand better working conditions.
One of the leaders of the strike, Courtney Chong Cheng-lin, was fired a few months later for stealing nuts, a bottle of water and an in-flight magazine. She ended up suing the airline for defamation and ultimately won a multimillion-dollar settlement.