Protest at Hong Kong International Airport over left luggage saga
Up to 2,500 cabin crew and supporters fill arrival hall, claiming flight safety may have been at risk
Cabin crew members and their supporters staged a rowdy sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport yesterday to protest last month’s handling of a piece of left luggage belonging to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s daughter.
Shouts echoed in the arrival hall for nearly three hours as leaders of the protest group took turns to vent their anger at the Civil Aviation Department for its alleged special treatment of Leung’s younger daughter, Chung-yan, which they claimed could have compromised flight safety.
Watch: Up to 2,500 cabin crew and supporters rally against CY Leung at airport
Minor scuffles broke out as dozens opposed to the protesters tried to confront them, accusing them of politicising the issue, but they were quickly overwhelmed and left soon after. Among them were Voice of Loving Hong Kong members and the others were reportedly from the pro-government camp.
Union members said 2,500 people took part but police put the number at 1,000. Crew members made up 10 per cent of the participants, organiser Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation said.
The federation called for direct talks with the Civil Aviation Department’s director general, and warned of more action if the talks did not place. “It’s a very dangerous practice,” federation general secretary Carol Ng Man-yee said. “Our job is to secure the safety of the flight and passengers.”
A government spokesman said the public’s concern about aviation security was understandable. However, the baggage of Leung’s daughter went through security checking prior to entering the restricted area in the departure zone, which meant neither the safety of the airport nor the aircraft was affected, he said.
Ng argued the luggage could have been easily switched.
The government spokesman said the Airport Authority would submit a report on the case to the government and appropriate follow-up action would be taken.
The controversy broke out when it was reported that in late March, a Cathay Pacific employee helped Chung-yan, who was in the airport restricted area, retrieve a bag she had left in the departure hall. It was claimed that in a phone call, Leung had pressured airport staff to help his daughter – allegations he has denied.
David Chu Yu-lin, a former National People’s Congress member, also attended the rally, and claimed that the airline staff cried when dealing with Leung. “I am very upset because ... none of them dared to speak up,” he said.
Protester Winnie Chan, 40, said: “We are not picking on CY. We are only here to express our concerns over flight safety.”
But the Staffs and Workers Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines, a member of the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions, expressed regret that the protesters sought to make political gains at the expense of airport staff and travellers.
“If they are unhappy about the case, they can go to petition the department head,” spokesman Ip Wai-ming said. “I see no reason why they should occupy the airport arrival hall.”