Cathay Pacific has sacked two flight attendants for allegedly tampering with oxygen tanks onboard and more are under investigation. My skepticism centers on motive. Why would a FA do this?
Seven times in the last month, Cathay Pacific has found depleted bottles of oxygen onboard. The latest incident took place on a Cathay Dragon flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong on September 21st.
While previous incidents of depleted or depressurized oxygen tanks were found either before or after the flight, this time the problem was discovered during a mid-flight inspection. The oxygen tank was checked hourly in-flight, strongly suggesting the sabotage occurred in-flight.
Cathay Pacific told the South China Morning Post:
The airline is taking the issue very seriously. Safety and security are always our greatest priority.
Cathay Dragon immediately reported the case to the Hong Kong Police, who have launched a parallel investigation into the matter. The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD) has been informed.
Cathay Pacific also confirmed that two flight attendants were fired over the incident, but would not offer any more detail.
My big question, though, is why? Why would a flight attendant deplete the oxygen tank? To what end?
Some flight attendants and their union are frustrated with management. How does sabotaging vital safety equipment advance their goal of being taken more seriously? Who realistically think that by depleting oxygen flight attendants will scare management back to the bargaining table? If anything, it will drive customers away in fear, driving down profit and making any future concessions more difficult to achieve.
How about the protest movement? We know that many Cathay Pacific flight attendants are sympathetic to the ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong. What message would sabotaging oxygen equipment serve? Subtle fear that protestors will dismantle the entire “system” if not given what they want? I doubt it. The Hong Kong public is widely supportive of the protest movement; these actions, if linked to the protest movement, greatly undermine its cause and moral high ground.
That leaves operatives from Mainland China. China has a motive to discredit the Hong Kong freedom movement by any means possible. Could it be that agents from the Mainland are guilty of depleting oxygen tanks in hopes of blame being directed toward the protest movement? My biases want this to be the the correct answer, but this seems far-fatched too. I’m not really a fan of conspiracy theories.
If oxygen tanks were being checked on an hourly basis and the problem was discovered mid-flight, do you really think a flight attendant would tamper with it? Who would be that dumb?
Motive remains a mystery in the matter of oxygen depletion on Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific. While the rash of incidents suggests this cannot possibly be random malfunctions, I have yet to see a compelling articulation of motive that would drive flight attendants to sabotage their own flights…and their greater cause.
When an AA mechanic sabotaged a 737-800 under the guise of frustration, the mechanic union at large lost a huge chunk of moral credibility. I am simply skeptical that Cathay Pacific flight attendants would follow the same playbook.
Do you see a viable motive in the ongoing cases of depleted oxygen tanks?
image: Cathay Pacific