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Dongguan company used prison labour to make headphones for major airlines

Posted: 06/26/2013 7:07 pm

A Dongguan company that admitted to using prison labour has been supplying disposable headphones to Qantas, Emirates, British Airways and other major airlines. One Australian inmate described the conditions under which the headphones were made as “very cruel,” Financial Review reports.

Dongguan City Joystar Electronic Co said it had used prison labour to fill an order from Airphonics of 300,000 sets of disposable headphones last year. Qantas confirmed that Airphonics was its main supplier.

Qantas said on Tuesday it had suspended its dealings with Airphonics while “we investigate further”.

Five Australians, including travel entrepreneur Matthew Ng, are currently being held at Dongguan Prison and are forced into prison labour. The paper has more:

Mr Cancian, who spent four years in jail for manslaughter after a restaurant brawl, said that failure to meet production targets in Dongguan would mean “you are taken outside and tasered”.

“It’s a very cruel environment. You wake up every morning wondering if you are going to survive the day,” he said.

Another former Dongguan inmate, who asked not to be named, confirmed he had made inductors as well as headphones for international airlines while serving a five-year sentence.

“Yes, I made them for the Australian airline Qantas, the one with the ­Kangaroo as its logo,” he said. “We also made them for Emirates, British ­Airways and lots of others.”

In 2011 it emerged that China had used prison labour in lucrative internet gaming work.

You can read China’s defence of its Reform of Criminals Through Labour program here:

China’s law stipulates that all criminals who are able to work must participate in work activities. Those who are found to be unable to work by a doctor’s examination or those who are old, infirm, disabled or otherwise unfit for work do not participate. According to statistics, about 10% of the prison population did not participate in labour in 1990. The Chinese Government opposes the use of labour as a means of punishing criminals, as well as the use of heavy labour as a means to maltreat prisoners.

China faithfully practices the use of forced labour as a reform method rather than as a method for punishment.

However, it seems the rights of the prisoners are minimal.

Prisoners in Dongguan are paid 8 yuan a month for their labour, which is only slightly more than it costs to buy a cake of soap in the prison shop.

However, Cancian said: “They claimed it was not slave labour because they paid us.”


Hong Kong Airlines dumps London service, new flights from Guangzhou to Japan

Posted: 08/20/2012 2:42 pm

This week, a mix of good and bad news for the Pearl River Delta airspace.

HK Airlines dumps loss-making London service
Hong Kong Airlines seems to be in a tailspin. The airline already cancelled its all-business class service to London Gatwick only seven months after it announced the service amid much fanfare.

All tickets from September 3 were shown as sold out last week, which raised speculation the London route was about to fall under the axe. Poor planning and miscalculations have led to the service being “deep in the red” ever since the launch, according to the SCMP.

Post reporter Charlotte So has more figures on HK Airlines’ errors:

The operating cost of the 14-hour flight is estimated at HK$3 million, including fuel costs, crew allowances and inflight meals.

Insiders said the carrier burns about HK$1 million to HK$2 million a day on the service and around HK$10 million a month. The monthly losses are lower than they would normally be because the airline cancels the services from time to time depending on the demand.

The company blamed troubles in Europe for failing to lure passengers away from Cathay Pacific and British Airways.

Now, HK Airlines, backed by the HNA Group, owner of China’s fourth largest carrier Hainan Airlines, will attempt to build on its Asian connections.

In the days leading up to the cancellation of its London service the airline was cited by regulators for poor service, blocking any expansion to the fleet.  According to Reuters, this lead to HK Airlines cancelling its $3.8 billion order for 10 Airbus A380s.

Jeffrey Lowe, general manager of Asian Sky Group, a Hong Kong-based aviation consultants group told Reuters:

It sounds like a very diplomatic way to say that we think your safety standards are slipping so, until you can show us you can handle any additional aircraft being added to your fleet, we would not approve it.

And the airline is still reeling from Typhoon Vicente, taking over a week to clear the backlog of passengers caught up in the worst storm to batter the South China coast in 13 years.

The final flight will pick up Hong Kong’s Paralympians, as the official carrier for the athletes, from London on September 10.

Kangaroo versus Canton? The battle of the skies heats up
Guangzhou’s China Southern Airlines (CSA) is bringing out its best aircraft for its new Sydney-London route, adding pressure to competitors in the battle for passengers, profits and prestige.

CSA president and CEO Tan Wangeng told Australian Business Traveller the airline’s new 787 Dreamliner will be deployed on the route.

We will spare no effort in building the Canton Route into a premium product, using new Airbus A380 superjumbo and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The news will cause some concern at Qantas, where its struggling international outfit, including that of their Kangaroo Route via Singapore, faces stiff competition against the likes of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and more.

China Southern will be the first airline to utilise the aircraft in British and Australian airspace beating both country’s own flagship carriers.

Japan-China seal Open-Skies deal
Japan and China have signed a new air deal boosting the number of flights between the two countries, liberalising the Sino-Japan market.

The deal, announced on August 8, will see new routes and increased frequencies which include Guangzhou-Tokyo Haneda for the first time. The pact has already roused interest with many Japanese-based airlines eyeing new departures to China.

Ethiopian u-turn on 787 service to Guangzhou
Ethiopian Airlines has dropped plans to deploy its new 787 Dreamliner to Guangzhou. While not good for passengers, it will be good news for China Southern which will have the honour of being the first carrier to utilise the newest aircraft in the mainland.

Hong Kong Airlines picture by Benson Kua on Flickr


China Southern Airlines boosts GZ-London flights; Shenzhen-Sydney starts

Posted: 07/26/2012 6:00 pm

China’s major airlines are heading into some turbulence: slowing traffic, government controlled jet fuel prices, and the depreciation of the RMB are all dampening aviation ambitions. It seems most major airlines are issuing profit warnings, too. Despite the problems, it seems there’s never a shortage of new routes being opened up, especially down here in China’s manufacturing hotbed.  Here is a round up of the latest news around the airlines affecting the Pearl River Delta.

China Southern ramps up London service
It wasn’t long ago that China Southern Airlines (CSA) launched their new Guangzhou-London service, and they’re already increasing the frequency of flights. Starting October 28, Heathrow will get daily service from Guangzhou, the only non-stop flight between the two cities.

Shenzhen starts-up Sydney service again
Hainan Airlines is returning to Sydney, Australia once more starting October 29 after a near nine-month hiatus – also making it the furthest international destination from Shenzhen to anywhere in the Asia-Pacific, let alone the world.

China Southern’s South East Asia shuffle
From September 21, Kuala Lumpur gets an extra daily flight from Guangzhou, taking the total to three flights a day.

Starting September 24 there will be extra flights from Guangzhou to Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Yangon. Ho Chi Minh goes thrice-daily, Singapore has been increased to four-a-day while Yangon temporarily doubles to four-a-week until October 26. Finally, starting October 1, twice-daily service resumes on the Guangzhou-Manila route after passenger traffic took a knock over rising political tensions between the mainland and the Philippines earlier this summer.

Hong Kong’s winter blues
Winter is the time of year where wings are clipped in the northern hemisphere as far as long-haul goes. British Airways are keeping to its 14 weekly departures from Heathrow, previously aiming for 17, while European rival Lufthansa reduces daily departures to a five or six flights a week service.

And in recent weeks, Hong Kong has been hit by strikes at Air India. While there’s been a resolution, flights from Delhi to Hong Kong and onwards to Osaka Kansai and Seoul Incheon are still suspended until September 1.

Emirates A380 Hong Kong u-turn
The Dubai-carrier has backed out of plans to introduce a 14-weekly A380 service to Hong Kong. It will stick to its previous seven A380 departures via Bangkok, with four other aircraft going to Hong Kong non-stop.

There’s still hope
It’s not all bad news in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Airlines is boosting services to Shanghai Pudong starting August 1. Its introducing an extra three flights on top of the 14-weekly in an all-new business class only flight. And from September 10, the number of flights will rise to 21 a week.

Source: Airline Route


Cheap flights alert! Jetstar to launch in Hong Kong

Posted: 03/29/2012 4:29 pm

Australian airline Jetstar will become a regular fixture on the tarmac at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) as their new low-cost airline takes off from next year.

Qantas, the owner of the budget brand, has teamed up with China Eastern Airlines to launch Jetstar Hong Kong, a new no-frills carrier, serving cities in mainland China, Japan, South Korea and South East Asia.

Following the demise of HK-based Oasis Airlines in 2008, Chek Lap Kok has been left without a permanent low-cost carrier, although it is still served by numerous low-fare airlines.

Jetstar Hong Kong is pledging to slash fares by 50 per cent compared to premium airlines. It will also go head-to-head against Cathay Pacific’s regional Dragonair brand and Hong Kong Airlines.

The move provides more choice and competition for travellers and it enables the Jetstar brand to link up passengers to more destinations in more countries through several Asian and Australian hubs.

The move into Hong Kong comes hot off the heels of a new Jetstar Japan airline.

Liu Shaoyong, the chairman of China Eastern, said he hoped Jetstar Hong Kong’s low fare approach would enable more people to fly more often for less and to stimulate the Hong Kong tourism industry and the broader economy.

Jetstar Group chief executive Bruce Buchanan said: “This is a unique opportunity for Jetstar to capitalise on the enormous potential of the Greater Chinese market.”

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