MIAMI – Cathay Pacific named Rupert Hogg as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), taking over on May 1st. He will replace Ivan Chu while the Hong Kong-based carrier struggles to revive earnings after reporting its first annual loss in eight years.
Chu was named CEO on March 14, 2014, taking over from John Slosar, the current chairman of Swire Group. The airlines’ three most recent CEOs — Chu, Slosar and Tony Tyler — were all Chief Operating Officer (COO) before assuming the charge for about three years, even though Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation said: “Ivan should’ve been replaced earlier but the next generation of leaders were still honing their skills,” because “Cathay’s deterioration in performance means Rupert will spend his CEO tenure addressing the tyranny of urgency.”
Shares of Cathay dropped about 30% since Chu became CEO. The carrier last month reported a net loss of HK$575 million ($74 million) for 2016.
Hogg has 55 years old and, as said before, is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) since March 2014. He’s also a 30-year veteran at parent Swire Group, from which Chu will become chairman, according to the statement.
As Bloomberg reports, the new CEO takes control of the Asia’s biggest carrier in the midst of the biggest business revamp Cathay has embarked on in two decades. The premium carrier has been under pressure from low-cost rivals in the region and Chinese airlines that are offering direct routes, even as demand for business travel dips.
Competition from mainland carriers such as China Eastern Airlines Corp. and China Southern Airlines Co. besides a slew of budget carriers in the region have prompted the marquee carrier to sell premium-class tickets at promotional prices. Predicting the challenging environment will continue in 2017, the airline has announced a three-year “corporate transformation” plan to reduce costs by as much as 3% while seeking to increase passenger capacity by as much as 5 percent a year through measures including nonstop flights to new markets.
“It’s easy to focus on the downside of more competition,” Chairman Slosar told reporters on March 15. “The upside is this is where the travel markets are exploding. We just need to figure out how we’re going to position ourselves to take best advantage of it.”
Paul Loo will become an executive director of Cathay on his appointment as Chief Customer and Commercial Officer effective June 1, the airline said, while Finance Director Martin Murray will be renamed Chief Financial Officer.
Cathay Pacific Group employed more than 33,700 people worldwide, including about 23,400 for the main airline, according to the interim report for the half year ended June 2016.