Cathay has begun cracking down on staff pilfering from aircraft stocks.

The airline has been so riled by food items going missing from planes, including ice cream and champagne, that it has begun searching staff after flights.

According to The South China Morning Post the airline has suffered the loss of 'untold hundreds of millions' over the years in items that could be reused.

This Sunday six airline crew were allegedly caught under the new spot check initiative to reduce 'petty theft' in the cabin.

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Risking their career for water, bread or a pen: Cathay Pacific Air Crew at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. Photo / Cameron Spencer, Getty Images
Risking their career for water, bread or a pen: Cathay Pacific Air Crew at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. Photo / Cameron Spencer, Getty Images

An airline staff memo published by onemileatatime.com outlined the zero tolerance policy:

"Zero tolerance means you are not permitted to take off the aircraft any item other than what the company has authorised as per the policy. If anyone removes company property, irrespective of the value or if you believe it will be thrown away, you will be subject to discipline which may include termination."

Pens, wet wipes and even ice creams have been reported missing.

Airline boss Rupert Hogg told the BBC the pilferage issue "may not necessarily be around cabin crew."

However he was determined that his airline crack down on any "losses in the supply-chain" which has been leaking mini tubs of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, bottles of champagne.

The airline union Cathay Dragon has supported the airlines right to protect their property, advising crew they would be "putting [their] career in a very risky position, just for water, bread or a pen."

A leak in the supply chain: Hogg admits, crew may not be to blame. Photo / Getty Images
A leak in the supply chain: Hogg admits, crew may not be to blame. Photo / Getty Images

However, they have asked for lenience in the case of food items which otherwise risk going to waste.

Rules on hygiene and food safety deny certain items from being removed from a plane. However high-value items such as alcohol and caviar are exempt from this – and can be reused by the airline.

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In 1993, strike leader Courtney Chong Cheng-lin was dismissed from the airline accused of stealing nuts and an in-flight magazine.

Cheng-lin, who was striking for better crew working conditions, was later exonerated after a five-year legal battle for defamation.