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A Cathay Pacific plane taxis at Hong Kong International Airport. Several employees of mainland state-owned companies told the Nikkei Asian Review that there is an "unspoken rule" among colleagues not to fly with Cathay. (Photo by Shinya Sawai) 
Business Spotlight

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific: One company, two systems

74-year-old airline navigates through coronavirus and protests

MICHELLE CHAN, Nikkei staff writer | Hong Kong, Macao

HONG KONG -- Half a year ago, Fion, a flight attendant with Cathay Pacific Airways, avoided wearing face masks for fear of being associated with the pro-democracy protests that were rocking the city. Now, she wears a mask on all flights to and from mainland China to guard against the coronavirus that has killed over 600 people since it broke out in Wuhan in December.

Fion's mask confusion reflects the twin challenges facing Hong Kong's biggest and oldest airline. But while the coronavirus is grabbing headlines, the greater test for the company may be how it navigates the delicate balance of "one country, two systems."

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