In a shock resignation following the sacking of four members of Cathay Pacific staff and amidst the continuing Hong Kong protest controversy, Cathay Pacific has announced that CEO Rupert Hogg and one of his deputies, chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo, have resigned. Hogg said it was an “honor” to have led the airline group, which he did for just over two years.
Both men resigned to “take responsibility” as leaders of the company “in view of recent events,” a company statement said.
According to the carrier’s chairman, John Slosar, new management was needed to “reset confidence.” Slosar noted that “recent events” had called into question the airline’s commitment to flight safety and security and put its reputation and brand under pressure.
Beijing sets first example, other “Cathays” might follow
“This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority,” said Slosar.
“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.”
Rupert Hogg has been replaced by Augustus Tang Kin-wing, 60, CEO of maintenance and engineering company Haeco, while newly appointed HK Express CEO Ronald Lam Siu-por was named the carrier's new chief customer and commercial officer. Cathay Pacific stated that it would find a new boss for its recently bought budget carrier.
State-owned Air China holds 30 percent of Cathay Pacific’s shares.
Chek Lap Kok is paralized
Hong Kong International Airport has been closed at times this week in the wake of the massive anti-government protests that have paralyzed one of Asia's key transport hubs. The airport is one of the world's busiest, and the Airport Authority has obtained a temporary injunction banning protesters from entering certain areas.
The protests began over plans that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China, but they have broadened into a pro-democracy movement concerned about China's growing influence in the city.
Violence and threats instead of dialogue
Demonstrators have repeatedly accused the Hong Kong government of being too close to the communist leadership in Beijing. Hong Kong has been a Chinese Special Administrative Region since 1997, where residents enjoy greater personal freedom than in the People's Republic.
John Slosar said Cathay was "fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of 'one country, two systems' as enshrined in the basic law." This is a reference to the fact that despite being part of China, Hong Kong receives "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs".
Nol van Fenema / Heiner Siegmund