Rupert Hogg, the CEO of Hong Kong air carrier Cathay Pacific, and Paul Loo, chief customer and commercial officer, have resigned following pressure on the airline amidst the region’s pro-democracy protests.
Cathay Pacific had initially told its employees that it would not stop them from joining the protests against the government. However, last Monday, as protesters occupied Hong Kong International Airport, Hogg emailed all staff to warn them that they could be fired if they were found to “support or participate in illegal protests”.
Cathay faced backlash for its original stance from Chinese state media, under the hashtag #BoycottCathayPacific, while the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) instructed the company to submit lists of all staff working on flights to or from mainland China, prompting the company to change its position.
“Cathay Pacific Group’s operations in mainland China are key to our business,” Hogg said in the email. “We are therefore legally required to follow CAAC regulations and, as is the case with any notices issued by any regulatory authority having jurisdiction over us, we must and will comply.”
Credit: Ruslan Bardash
Following his resignation, 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.”
Cathay chairman John Slosar said that “recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure.
“This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority. 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.”
However, Slosar said the company is still committed to Hong Kong under “One Country, Two Systems”, the constitutional principle that has given the region a high degree of autonomy from the Chinese mainland.
Hogg has been replaced by Tang Kin Wing Augustus, and Paul Loo by Ronald Lam.