Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways on Monday announced a raft of measures to improve its service after a discrimination scandal, including recruiting staff from the Chinese mainland and increasing the number of Mandarin-speaking flight attendants.
The move came weeks after the company fired three employees who mocked the English language proficiency of mainland passengers.
In a Chinese-language internal memo to staff, Cathay CEO Ronald Lam Siu-por, who has led a cross-departmental task force to improve service quality after the incident, said that multiple initiatives will be rolled out in the coming months.
As the number of Mandarin-speaking customers continues to increase, the company has been planning to recruit cabin crew members from the mainland after the pandemic, without specifying the exact head count.
Although the cabin crew will still be primarily composed of employees from Hong Kong, it will hire more staff from other regions outside the city to serve different customers' demands, Lam wrote.
The company will first increase Mandarin-speaking flight attendants on flights to and from the mainland, and later extend the arrangement to other flights.
From August onward, every flight to and from the mainland will have Mandarin cabin announcements, in addition to Cantonese and English.
In addition, a new monthly allowance will be offered to Cathay Pacific staff who can speak more than one Asian language. The nameplates of flight attendants will clearly indicate which languages they can speak.
Also from July, the cabin crew team will receive an additional training program to foster a customer-centric culture. The training will be extended to other teams later.
The training is aimed to refresh cabin crew with the approach and skills necessary to provide the company's caring service consistently to all customers, as well as reinforce its inclusive culture, according to Lam.
In a viral online post published last month, a Cathay Pacific passenger who is fluent in Mandarin, English and Cantonese detailed how three flight attendants repeatedly complained about a passenger who asked for a blanket and other passengers who didn't speak English well.
The passenger said that during the flight, the attendants continuously made insulting remarks and discriminatory verbal abuse to non-English speaking passengers. The passenger reported the incident to Cathay Pacific.
Various officials and social leaders, including Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, criticized the disrespectful behavior, saying that such incidents must not occur again.