Cathay Pacific CEO resigns after Beijing pressure over employees in Hong Kong protests

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The CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways resigned on Friday following pressure by Beijing on the Hong Kong carrier over participation by some of its employees in anti-government protests.

Cathay Pacific said Rupert Hogg resigned “to take responsibility” following “recent events.”

The company chairman, John Slosar, said in a statement the airline needed new management because events had “called into question” its commitment to safety and security.

“This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority,” Slosar said in a statement. “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.”

Cathay Pacific, which has been under pressure from China’s aviation regulator, said it was fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of “one country, two systems” and was confident Hong Kong would have a great future.

The Chinese city of Shenzhen is located across the border from Hong Kong. Paramilitary police were assembling in Shenzhen for exercises in what some saw as a threat to the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. (CBC News)

The airline became embroiled in crosswinds between Beijing and pro-democracy groups in the Asian financial hub after some of its employees took part in the Hong Kong protests.

This week, Cathay Pacific terminated the employment of two pilots over their involvement in the protests, after being ordered by China’s aviation regulator to suspend personnel who had engaged in illegal protests.

The airline named Augustus Tang as the new CEO. Tang was the head of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, which like Cathay is managed by Swire Pacific Ltd.

Cathay Pacific also said Paul Loo had resigned as chief customer and commercial officer, to be replaced by the head of its low-cost arm Hong Kong Express, Ronald Lam.

Hogg said these had been “challenging weeks” for the airline and it was right for Loo and him to take responsibility as leaders of the company.



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