The chief executive of Hong Kong flag-carrier Cathay Pacific has quit after the airline became embroiled in the controversy over protests there.
Rupert Hogg said he was taking responsibility as these had been “challenging weeks” for the airline, reports BBC. Some of its employees took part in the protest, but China ordered the airline to suspend staff who did so. Cathay’s chairman, John Slosar, said it was time to put “a new management team in place who can reset confidence”.Paul Loo is also leaving as chief customer and commercial officer.
Hogg said: “These have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company.” Last week, Cathay Pacific had told its staff it would not stop them joining the pro-democracy demonstrations currently sweeping Hong Kong.
But on Monday, Mr Hogg warned staff they could be fired if they “support or participate in illegal protests”.
Cathay faced pressure online after China’s state-run press fuelled a #BoycottCathayPacific hashtag, which trended on Chinese social media. Beijing’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), required Cathay to submit lists of staff working on flights going to the mainland or through its airspace.
It also had to submit a report on planned measures to “strengthen internal control and improve flight safety and security”.
Cathay Pacific said that Mr Hogg had been replaced by Tang Kin Wing Augustus and Mr Loo by Ronald Lam.The airline is currently majority-owned by the Swire investment company, while Air China has a 30% stake. Qatar Airways also owns a stake. Cathay’s new chief executive Mr Tang was the head of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, which is also owned by Swire. Mr Lam was head of Cathay’s low-cost service Hong Kong Express.
Mr Slosar said that while Mr Hogg and his team had carried out a three-year turnaround plan, “recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure”.