Following a highly embarrassing incident in May where Cantonese-speaking flight attendants were accused of making fun of Chinese passengers’ proficiency in English, Cathay Pacific has held its first-ever cabin crew recruitment event in mainland China.
In order to reflect the significance of the Chinese market for the Hong Kong-based airline, chief executive Ronald Lam said it was time to begin hiring mainland Chinese cabin crew.
As opposed to Hong Kong-based crew who speak Cantonese, Cathay Pacific is especially eager to hire Putonghua-speaking cabin crew who can communicate easily with mainland Chinese customers.
Cathay Pacific plans to hire 200 to 300 cabin crew members from the Chinese mainland in 2023 alone, but this number could rise to 1,000 to 2,000 within the following two years.
In an effort to build a “diverse and inclusive Cathay family,” Cathay Pacific is also hiring mainlanders as cadet pilots, ground staff, and customer service representatives.
When a Cantonese-speaking flight attendant was caught on camera making fun of a mainland Chinese passenger for asking for a blanket on a flight out of Chengdu earlier this year, the airline received harsh criticism in the country.
Inadvertently using the word ‘rug’ instead of ‘blanket,’ the flight attendant informed the passenger that they could not use the correct word to request a blanket.
It was made clear to Cathay Pacific that additional action, like integrating mainland Chinese staff into the company, was required. Cathay Pacific swiftly fired the flight attendants and pledged more diversity training.