26 March 2019
Leung Chun-ying says it wasn't his decision to have his daughter's bag brought to her at the departure gate from outside the restricted area. Photos: Xinhua, RTHK
Leung Chun-ying says it wasn't his decision to have his daughter's bag brought to her at the departure gate from outside the restricted area. Photos: Xinhua, RTHK

Baggage decision made by airline and airport staff: Leung

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has tried to distance himself from the decision to allow a carry-on bag his daughter left in the airport check-in area to be brought to her in the restricted area where she was waiting to board a flight.

The March 28 incident has sparked criticism of Leung and his wife, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, for leaning on airport and airline staff to circumvent security regulations that require cabin baggage to undergo a security check in the presence of its owner, in this case their younger daughter, Chung-yan. 

While the chief executive has admitted speaking with a Cathay Pacific employee about the bag, he told reporters before Tuesday’s Executive Council meeting that the decision that a member of airport security staff should carry his daughter’s cabin baggage into the restricted area was not made by him, his daughter or anyone else other than airport security staff and the airline’s ground staff.

Nonetheless, the Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation (HKCCF) said it will announce on Wednesday measures, including a possible sit-in at the airport, that its members will take to protest the alleged abuse of power by Leung, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) replied to an HKCCF letter of complaint with an email Tuesday, saying airlines can, depending on the situation, help passengers by carrying their cabin baggage into the restricted area after the bags undergo the required security check.

But the HKCCF condemned CAD director general Norman Lo Shung-man for negating the efforts made by the industry to ensure airport security.

The federation said it would write Lo another letter urging him to make a personal response.

Pilot Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a Civic Party member, submitted on Tuesday 34,000 signatures on an online petition from the public to the Airports Council International, the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Tam asked the three governing bodies to determine if the airport incident violated international flight safety protocols.

A Cathay Pacific representative said the airline’s internal guidelines on cabin baggage were compliant with international standards but refused to comment on individual cases, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The Airport Authority of Hong Kong, CAD and the Security Bureau have all insisted that the incident did not violate security protocols laid down by international aviation organizations.

Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said during a meeting Tuesday of the Legislative Council’s panel on security that if government departments such as the Security Bureau insist that the carrying of cabin baggage into the restricted area by a person other than the owner does not violate airport security regulations, the panel should urge the government to table in writing the applicable guidelines and procedures for airlines and airport staff, so as to convince the public, Apple Daily reported.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching has called for a special meeting of Legco to which the chief executive or government representatives be summoned to explain the incident.

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