Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Cathay Pacific chief resigns amid mounting scrutiny

Departure follows participation of airline's staff in Hong Kong protests

Under mounting Chinese pressure, Cathay Pacific's chief executive Rupert Hogg resigned on Friday. AFP
Under mounting Chinese pressure, Cathay Pacific's chief executive Rupert Hogg resigned on Friday. AFP

Cathay Pacific Airways said its chief executive Rupert Hogg has resigned and has been replaced in a bid to "reset confidence" amid mounting scrutiny of the Hong Kong flag carrier.

Augustus Tang, the head of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company - which like Cathay is managed by Swire Pacific - will take over as the carrier's new chief.

The airline also said Paul Loo had resigned as chief customer and commercial officer, to be replaced by the head of its low-cost arm Hong Kong Express, Ronald Lam.

Cathay chairman John Slosar said recent events - which include the involvement of its employees in the city's protests - had called into question Cathay's commitment to flight safety and security and put its reputation and brand under pressure.

"This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority," he said in a statement. "We therefore think it is time to put a new management team in place who can reset confidence and lead the airline to new heights."

Mr Hogg said these had been "challenging weeks" and it was right for Mr Loo and him to take responsibility as leaders.

Mr Hogg's resignation was first announced by Chinese state television, CCTV. It was unclear, however, if it would help revive the company's reputation on the mainland.

Cathay said it was fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" and was confident Hong Kong would have a great future.

The airline, which is 30 per cent owned by Air China, became embroiled in crosswinds between Beijing and protesters in the Asian financial hub after some of its employees took part in the rallies.

This week, Cathay terminated the employment of two pilots over their involvement in the protests, after being ordered by China's aviation regulator to suspend personnel who had engaged in illegal protests.

Cathay last week reported its first profit for the January-June period since 2016 and said the second half was likely to be better despite a lower forward bookings due to local unrest.

Updated: August 16, 2019 03:40 PM

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