MIAMI — Cathay Pacific CEO, Rupert Hogg, and CCO, Paul Loo, have both resigned after mounting pressure following the two days of protests that forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights at the airline’s main base in Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
After two days of blocking check-ins at the world’s eighth busiest airport, the Hong Kongese protesters and their supporters were pushed out of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) on Wednesday.
The airport demonstrations mark the most recent countermeasure in an 8-week long protest that has amassed a following of over 2 million people.
On Monday, protesters flooded the airport terminals for a peaceful sit-in that later turned violent, with protesters clashing with police.
Cathay Pacific canceled more than 270 flights as a result, which directly affected more than 55,000 passengers.
The resignation of both executives also comes amid mounting Chinese regulatory scrutiny over the involvement of the carrier’s staff in the latest anti-government protests.
Part of the scandal comes after Beijing’s censuring of Cathay Pacific because some of its employees have been vocal supporters of the pro-democracy rallies in the city.
Because of this, Chinese state-owned companies embarked on a boycott campaign against the Hong Kong-based airline, asking all employees not to fly with Cathay Pacific.
The carrier was also censured by China’s largest bank, forcing its stock price to fall into a decade-long low. However, the following day the stock price rebounded once the airline’s executives censured the city’s protests.
Rupert Hogg released a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, noting that he takes “responsibility as a leader of the company in view of recent events.”
“There is no doubt that our brand and reputation are under immense pressure and this pressure has been growing for some weeks, particularly in the all-important market of mainland China,” he said.
“This is a grave and critical time for our airlines,” Hogg added.
Hogg was named CEO of Cathay Pacific in 2017. His mission was to turn around the airline after it had reported its first loss in eight years. At the time, the carrier was mitigating one of the toughest financial crisis in its 72-year-old history.
Rupert Hogg managed to implement some cost reductions and hundreds of job cuts during his two-year tenure.
Cathay Pacific also entered the low-cost industry by taking over the country’s only low-cost carrier, HK Express, trying to get a piece of the pie that had been booming in the Asia-Pacific region for the last decade.
Hogg has been immediately replaced by Augustus Tang, a professional veteran who’s been part of the airline’s main shareholder, the Swire Group. Tang is the former head of the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company.
The airline’s Chairman, John Slosar, released a public statement noting that the recent protests and the way Cathay Pacific handled the situation has called into question the carrier’s commitment to flight safety.
“This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority,” Slosar wrote.
“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.”
The carrier’s CCO, Paul Loo, was also immediately replaced by Ronald Lam, former chief at Cathay Pacific’s low-cost carrier, Hong Kong Express.