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As Hong Kong Withdraws the Extradition Bill, a Cathay Pacific Executive Resigns

As Hong Kong Withdraws the Extradition Bill, a Cathay Pacific Executive Resigns
Joe Cortez

The embattled Hong Kong carrier will have one more executive role to fill: board chairman John Slosar. The outgoing executive will step down effective November 6, 2019, as city leaders withdraw the controversial extradition bill that started mass protests.

Another executive leader at Cathay Pacific is leaving the company, bringing the quitting leadership count to three. In a press release, the Hong Kong airline announced the resignation of airline chairman John Slosar, effective at the next board meeting on November 6, 2019.

Mr. Slosar joined the airline’s parent company Swire Group in 1998, working for 14 years within the Mainland China beverage division before joining the aviation division. By 2002, Mr. Slosar was appointed the CEO of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company before assuming his seat as chairman of Cathay Pacific.

Prior to leaving the chairman’s seat, Mr. Slosar was vocal about staying neutral among the civil disruption in Hong Kong. In a previous interview, the South China Morning Post reports Mr. Slosar said he “wouldn’t dream of telling [employees]…what to think about something,” referencing the anti-government protests. At the end of his tenure, Cathay Pacific employees spoke anonymously about their fears of being searched by Chinese officials anytime they landed in the mainland.

The outgoing chairman will be replaced by Patrick Healy, whom according to Bloomberg has spent 31 years with Swire Group. In his farewell statement, Mr. Slosar praised the work of the employees during this difficult time in modern history.

“I would like to thank the entire Cathay team for their support, commitment and friendship during my years as part of that team,” Mr. Slosar wrote. “They are always at their best in challenging times, when their dedication really shines through.”

Mr. Slosar is joined in stepping down by two former Cathay Pacific executives, Rupert Hogg and Paul Loo. Both left the executive suite in August 2019, under pressure from Chinese officials. Despite three executives leaving, analysts are worried that pressure may still be building for the airline.

“While the departure of Slosar may present less near-term impact on operations than the departure of Hogg and Loo, it remains clear that CAAC’s scrutiny of Cathey is still far from over,” Luya You, transportation analyst for Bocom International, told the South China Morning Post. “While it’s hard to say if further cuts continue, we believe Cathay’s near-term challenges are far from over.”

Yet, the skies may soon clear for Cathay Pacific. CNN reports Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam withdrew the extradition bill that sparked the protests and added two new independent members to the city’s Independent Police Conduct Commission. And incoming chairman Mr. Healy expressed optimism in his press statement.

“Cathay Pacific has been Hong Kong’s home carrier for over seven decades,” Mr. Healy said in the release. “Despite current challenges, I am confident in the future of Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific will remain fully committed to this great city as Asia’s key aviation hub.”

 

[Image: Wikimedia Commons/Studio Incendo]

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1 Comment

  1. Gizzabreak

    September 4, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Wife and self have used Cathay almost exclusively for recreational long haul for about 12 years … excellent (mostly) so far. Unlike Hong Kong (the city), where the slow drift toward mainland authoritarianism has been noticibly increasing, Cathay has retained it’s Western and upmarket standards reasonably well. Perhaps not for much longer. The first time we don’t hear a native British, American, Canadian, Australian or Kiwi (BACAK) accent from the flight deck … we’re ‘outa’ there and going ‘home’ to the ‘home brewed’ South Pacific operators. PS: Can’t imagine what the current Chinese political leaders hope to achieve by turning this unique, Western comfortable and friendly, piece of China into ‘just another’ Chinese city. I suspect they may regret the move in (say) a further 20 years.

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