Cathay Pacific refuses to let cabin crew wear masks

May 1st, 2009 - 12:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, May 1 (DPA) Cathay Pacific cabin crew are demanding that they be allowed to wear face masks and gloves on flights to protect themselves against swine flu, but Hong Kong’s biggest airline has refused.
The 5,000-member Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union (FAU) said that cabin crew were increasingly fearful after the WHO raised its pandemic alert to level five, the second highest.

However, Cathay Pacific has refused their request, saying they can only wear face masks and gloves in specific instances of dealing with passengers suspected of suffering swine flu.

There have been no reported cases of swine flu in Hong Kong, but the airline flies to the US and Europe, where cases have been confirmed.

FAU chairperson Becky Kwan said the company appeared to be too concerned about “image” to allow face masks and gloves to be worn by cabin crew.

“If they continue to refuse our reasonable request, we will ask the Department of Health to intervene on our behalf,” she said.

“I think (Cathay’s refusal) is to do with image. But if we send out the message that we are safe and hygienic by wearing masks and gloves, it will improve our image with passengers.”

A spokesperson for Cathay Pacific said: “The airline has increased the stock of face masks available on flights as a precautionary measure under normal situations, cabin crew should not wear gloves during the flight, including meal service and tray collection, as the use of gloves for airline workers and cabin crew has not been recommended by the Department of Health or any other international health agency.”

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