Cathay Pacific CEO and CCO to resign amidst Hong Kong turmoil

Cathay Pacific Airways ©AirTeamImages

Cathay Pacific’s chief executive officer Rupert Hogg and chief commercial officer Paul Loo are to step down as the Hong Kong-based carrier struggles with fallout from nearly four months of political protests. Cathay said last week that protests affected its passenger numbers last month and were continuing to “adversely impact” future bookings. “Recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure,” said Cathay Chairman John Slosar in a statement.

In recent days the international airport in Hong Kong has been overrun by political protesters, forcing Cathay Pacific to cancel hundreds of flights. “This is a grave and critical time for our airlines. There is no doubt that our reputation and brand are under immense pressure and this pressure has been building for some weeks, particularly in the all-important market of mainland China,” Hogg wrote in a memo to staff, as reported by CNN Business. “Could we have managed things differently? In hindsight, ‘yes’,” Hogg added.

China has made it clear that it will not allow a Cathay Pacific flight to use China’s airspace if any of the crew onboard have been involved in any political protest. While not confirming why, the carrier confirmed on Wednesday that two pilots’ contracts had been terminated, though a Cathay Pacific employee indicated one of the pilots had allegedly been charged with rioting. Merlin Swire, the head of Cathay Pacific’s biggest investor, Swire Pacific, has openly condemned what he calls “illegal activities and violent behavior” in Hong Kong. Hogg will be replaced as CEO by Augustus Tang, the chief executive of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, a Swire firm. Loo will be replaced by Ronald Lam, the head of Cathay Pacific subsidiary HK Express.

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