Cathay, founded by an American and an Australian during British rule in 1946, was caught in the middle of the crisis 11 days ago, when China demanded it suspend staff involved in the protest movement.
The firm agreed, firing two pilots, but has since been plunged into turmoil after CEO Rupert Hogg was replaced last week.
Another pilot, Jeremy Tam, who is also a pro-democracy lawmaker, said on Tuesday that he and others had quit the airline as the internal political pressure was intolerable.
“That (China’s aviation regulator) has reached into Hong Kong and directly pressured a local airline is undoubtedly ‘white terror’,” he wrote on his Facebook page, using a popular Hong Kong expression used to describe anonymous acts that create a climate of fear.
“There have been resignations from frontline staff to the company’s CEO because of this political trial.”
The airline confirmed Tam was no longer an employee and said it could not comment on internal staff matters. China’s aviation regulator has not responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.
It looks like Beijing is trying to make examples of a few, trying to scare the rest of Hong Kong back into line. But the protests — already more than four months old — are probably too big for that.
Beijing can’t cave to Hong Kong without risking increased dissent on the mainland, but can’t pull off another blacked-out Tiananmen massacre because a few million smartphones would record the carnage.
It’s a helluva fix they’re in, and it couldn’t be happening to a nicer bunch of thugs.