Cathay union says female flight attendants are ‘at risk’ in Saudi

THE union for Cathay Pacific flight attendants has urged the airline to stop overnight crew stays in the Saudi capital over fears for the safety of female staff, a spokesman said.

The demand follows an incident last month in which a man tried to force his way into the hotel room of a junior Cathay attendant, Tsang Kwok Fung, general secretary of the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union, said.

Other complaints have been made involving unwanted telephone calls to female staff also staying at the Marriott Hotel in Riyadh, he added.

Last month, Cathay switched its layovers to Riyadh from the Gulf state of Bahrain because of political unrest that has swept across much of the region.

The union has now called for overnight stops to be moved to Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, but is yet to receive a “positive response” from management, according to Tsang.

“We will write to the government on this matter if (the airline) does not act swiftly,” he said. “The safety of our staff is of utmost importance.”

In a statement, a Cathay spokeswoman said the airline was “taking this very seriously and are monitoring the situation closely to ensure that all crew are safe and well taken care of.”

The airline spoke to the hotel’s management immediately after the incident was reported, she said, adding that the hotel responded by enhancing security and closed-circuit television inside lifts.

On February 28, the female flight attendant answered a knock on her door by a man dressed in “Arab clothing” who then tried to force himself inside the room, Tsang said.

The woman screamed and tried to push the door closed while threatening to call police. The man then left.

Other female cabin crew members staying in Riyadh received unwanted calls in their rooms on the same day, Tsang said, adding Cathay’s female cabin crew have now refused to leave their hotel rooms while staying in the city.


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