Hong Kong, Aug 16: Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg has quit after protests in Hong Kong dipped the leading airline’s stocks and under pressure from Chinese authorities to rein in employees who were supporting the pro-democracy demonstrators.
The news of his departure first broke on Chinese state media rather than on Hong Kong business channels. It is being speculated that the order has been given by Beijing.
As the protests entered tenth week, Hong Kong’s leading airline suffered losses as hundreds of flights were canceled when protesters overran the airport and bookings are still down.
Cathay Pacific recently fired two pilots and two airport staff for participating in the demonstrations, reportedly at the direction of the Chinese government, A number of Chinese firms effectively boycotted the airline, issued advisory to the staff not to fly with Cathay for safety reasons. Although Cathay is a major international carrier, more than a fifth of its flights go to the Chinese mainland.
“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, CNN reported.
Paul Loo, the airline’s chief commercial officer, is also stepping down, the company said in a stock exchange filing on Friday. The resignations, first reported by Chinese state media, will take effect on Monday.
“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. “This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority.”