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Cathay Pacific Executives Quit Amid Hong Kong Protests

Cathay Pacific Executives Quit Amid Hong Kong Protests
Joe Cortez

After weeks of protest in Hong Kong, two executives from one of the city’s international airlines are abruptly leaving their posts. Cathay Pacific executives Rupert Hogg and Paul Loo are resigning effective immediately, leaving the airline on unsteady ground.

As political protests reach Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and disrupt flights, Cathay Pacific’s two senior-most executives are vacating their posts immediately. In a press release, the Hong Kong-based airline announced chief executive Rupert Hogg and chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo have tendered their resignations to the company’s board of directors.

The two executives were caught in the middle of unprecedented protests, which ultimately reached the airport. According to FlyerTalkers on the ground during the protest, the massive amount of people created safety concerns and forced flight cancellations, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. At Cathay Pacific alone, protesters caused 272 cancellations, directly affecting 55,000 flyers.

The leadership team tried to remain neutral by telling employees not to join the protests. As a result, two employees were dismissed from the company for their part in protest activities. The airline also issued a press release backing the Hong Kong government and calling for the civil unrest to end.

“We resolutely support the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Chief Executive and the Police in their efforts to restore law and order,” their release read. “We condemn all illegal activities and violent behavior, which seriously undermine the fundamental principle of ‘One Country Two Systems’ as enshrined in the Basic Law.”

However, this was not enough to stop threats to airline and flyer safety and prevent the company’s stock from plummeting. Over the last three months, the stock price dropped by $2 to a recent low of around $6 per share. Analysts speaking to CNBC say that shares of the troubled carrier remain volatile because the company is “stuck in a very, very, very tough place.”

The airline’s board thanked both Mr. Hogg and Mr. Loo for their service to the airline and blamed the current events for their abrupt exit.

“Recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure,” John Slosar, chairman of Cathay Pacific, wrote in the press release. “This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority.”

The board agrees with the outgoing executives that now is the right time to change leadership to “reset confidence and lead the airline to new heights.” In his closing comments, Mr. Hogg noted that leaving was his way to be accountable to the situation.

“I am confident in the future of Hong Kong as the key aviation hub in Asia,” Mr. Hogg wrote in the press release. “However, these have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company.”

The two executives will be replaced by other leaders in The Swire Group, the conglomerate which owns Cathay Pacific. Augustus Tang, CEO of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited, will take the top spot at the airline, while Ronald Lam will take over as chief customer and commercial officer. Mr. Lam will also remain CEO of Hong Kong Express until his successor can be announced.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. objective

    August 16, 2019 at 9:17 am

    This is completely wrong – “Over the last three months, the stock price dropped by $2 to a recent low of around $6 per share. “

    Also, the reasons of the two dismissed were not about protests.

  2. SamirD

    August 17, 2019 at 10:50 am

    So what is the truth?

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