The crew of a Cathay Pacific flight from San Franscisco to Hong Kong flying over Japan reported a suspected sighting of last week’s North Korean missile test.
On November 29, North Korea launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile it said could reach anywhere in the US.
The test-launch raised tension further with South Korea and the US, who on December 4 began their largest ever joint air exercise, which North Korea has branded an “all-out provocation”.
Described by North Korea as its “most powerful” missile, the November 29 launch ended up in Japanese waters but flew higher than any other the North had previously tested.
According to the South China Morning Post, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of operations Mark Hoey told staff in a message that “today the crew of CX893 reported, <<Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location>>”.
The launch was reportedly also witnessed by two South Korean aircraft en route to Seoul from the US.
Image source Wikimedia
Unlike other countries, North Korea usually does not announce its missile tests which means they come without warning or known flight path, posing a potential risk to planes.
North Korea does have access to international civil aviation data so it can study the airspace before any launch.
While the risk of an incident remains very low, it is something that airlines are taking into consideration. In early August, Air France expanded their no-fly zone around North Korea after it transpired one of its planes flew close to a North Korean missile path.
The December 4 air exercise between the US and South Korea, called Vigilant Ace, will last for five days.
It will involve some 230 aircraft, including two dozen stealth jets, and tens of thousands of military personnel.
North Korea has condemned the drills, saying over the weekend that the US was “begging for nuclear war” and that it would “seriously consider” counter-measures to the exercises.
Cathay Pacific has announced it will cut nearly 600 jobs as part of the biggest restructuring in 20 years.
The cuts include 190 management jobs and 400 non-management staff working at Cathay Pacific’s head office in Hong Kong.
The cuts are part of a three year program to turn around the losses.
Image source Wikimedia
Cathay Pacific said in a statement that the job cuts would be complete by the end of the year, with most of the affected employees to be informed on May 22, and over the next month.
The changes will be overseen by Cathay Pacific’s new chief executive, Rupert Hogg, who replaced Ivan Chu Kwok-leung earlier this month.
Rupert Hogg cited increasing competition and a challenging business outlook for what he called “tough but necessary decisions for the future of our business and our customers”.
Cathay has been facing tough competition from Chinese and Middle Eastern airlines that have expanded rapidly in the Asia Pacific region.
Earlier this year, Cathay posted a net loss of HK$575 million ($74 million) for 2016. It was only the third time Cathay Pacific posted a full-year loss in its 70 year history.
A bag with NZ$1 million ($667,000) went missing after it fell while being moved at Hong Kong International Airport.
The bag was one of 13, holding a total NZ$10 million, being sent to the Bank of China in Hong Kong from New Zealand, Chinese media said.
Three bags reportedly fell off after being unloaded from a Cathay Pacific flight on July 17. Airport staff who went to retrieve them found only two.
The airline said police were investigating.
Reports in China said surveillance footage broadcast in China showed the three unfastened bags falling from a trailer as it turned a corner.
When staff realized the bags were missing 10 minutes later, they returned, the website said.
Chinese media said police were treating the disappearance of the bag as theft.
A statement by the airline said: “Cathay Pacific transported a valuable cargo shipment last Friday night to Hong Kong.
“Upon arrival, it was transferred to the cargo terminal where part of the shipment was found missing. As the case is under police investigation, we are unable to provide further details.”
G4S International Logistics, that was transporting the money to the Bank of China, said the money was safe until it entered the controlled airside section of the airport – a section to which their staff have no access.
The money was insured, the company said.
Typhoon Soulik has hit Taiwan, bringing strong winds and torrential rain to the island.
So far one person is reported to have died while 21 have been injured in the extreme weather.
More than 8,500 people have been evacuated from mountainous and other dangerous areas and thousands of soldiers have been deployed.
Typhoon Soulik is set to arrive in mainland China’s eastern provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang later on Saturday.
Local authorities there have been asked to implement emergency response plans, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported, after recent torrential rain across large parts of the country reportedly left 200 people dead or missing.
Typhoon Soulik, a medium-force typhoon, had wind speeds of around 100 mph on Saturday morning.
It made landfall at around 03:00 local time on Saturday, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau reported.
A police officer was killed by falling bricks but other people suffered mostly light injuries, including from fallen trees or being blown off their scooters.
Typhoon Soulik has hit Taiwan, bringing strong winds and torrential rain to the island
The strong winds and heavy rain have caused electricity disruptions, a run on food and essential supplies in supermarkets, and uprooted trees and signs in some areas.
This typhoon is the first to hit Taiwan this year and there had been fears of major damage because the island was the first place it made landfall.
Nearly 50,000 soldiers have been put on standby.
Schools and offices in Taipei and several other cities had closed on Friday afternoon as the tropical storm neared.
Some flights to Taiwan have been disrupted, with both Cathay Pacific and China Airlines announcing cancellations.
Precautionary measures have been taken to close the roads and bridges along areas most susceptible to disaster, officials said.
Fishing boats had been returned to the shore before the typhoon hit, and members of the public were urged to avoid mountain and coastal areas.
Evacuated residents – including 3,000 from Kaohsiung city and 2,000 from Pingtung county in the south of Taiwan – have been taken to local government buildings that have been turned into shelters, AFP reported.
More than 2,000 tourists had earlier been evacuated from Taiwan’s Green Island, near the city of Taitung, as a precaution.
Typhoons are common during the summer in parts of East Asia, where the warm moist air and low pressure conditions enable tropical cyclones to form.
In 2009, Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Morakot, which left hundreds dead in floods and mudslides.
Cathay Pacific says a flight attendant who felt tempted to throw coffee on Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has lost her job.
The Thai cabin crew member had reportedly posted on Facebook that Paetongtarn Shinawatra was “the daughter of my enemy”.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra is said to have been on a flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong.
A statement by the airline said the attendant was no longer an employee. It did not say if she quit or was sacked.
Cathay Pacific said that it said it regretted the “unfortunate incident” and that it intends to personally apologize to the passenger in question.
The statement also said it had investigated the matter thoroughly and concluded that the incident was “unauthorized”.
Cathay Pacific says a flight attendant who felt tempted to throw coffee on Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has lost her job
Thaksin Shinawatra lives abroad after being ousted in a coup in 2006, but remains a polarizing figure in Thailand. His sister Yingluck Shinawatra is currently prime minister. Paetongtarn Shinawatra is one of his three children.
According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, the flight attendant’s Facebook post said: “I never expected that [Paetongtarn] was on board today. I immediately told my flight manager I could not work knowing the daughter of my enemy was on the plane.
“I called my personal adviser asking if it would be all right to throw coffee at Paetongtarn, but was told that this could breach Hong Kong’s laws,” she is reported to have posted.
The attendant has not made any public comment as yet.