Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) has told its staff not to “support or participate in illegal protests” or they could be fired, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

In a message to staff on August 12, CEO Rupert Hogg said that employees would face “disciplinary consequences” if they got involved in the pro-democracy protests, which continue to grip the territory, including mass sit-in protests at Hong Kong Int'l.

The carrier has come under increasing pressure from Beijing, which has told it that any staff involved in the protests would be banned from flights to the mainland, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. New regulations by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) regulator require Cathay to submit lists of staff flying to the mainland or through its airspace.

The airline said it would comply, as its business in China was vital to its interests. It has already suspended a pilot accused of rioting after allegedly taking part in the demonstrations.

“Cathay Pacific Group has a zero-tolerance approach to illegal activities. Specifically, in the current context, there will be disciplinary consequences for employees who support or participate in illegal protests,” Hogg wrote in his message. “These consequences could be serious and may include termination of employment.”

He added that the “actions and words of our employees made outside of working hours can have a significant effect on the company.”

It is a policy shift for Cathay Pacific, which said last week that it would not stop employees from joining the demonstrations. But besides the instructions from Beijing, it is also facing a social media-fuelled boycott campaign on the mainland.