The company has been caught in a political firestorm because of the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations, and warned earlier this week that it could fire employees who take part in illegal protests. Hundreds of its flights were canceled when protesters overran the airport.
Paul Loo, the airline’s chief commercial officer, is also stepping down, the company said in a stock exchange filing on Friday. The resignations are effective Monday.

Hogg’s resignation was first reported by Chinese state media.

“Recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure,” said Cathay Chairman John Slosar in a statement. “This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority.”

Cathay Pacific says it could fire staff who support Hong Kong protests

Slosar did not elaborate further, but the airline has been swept up in numerous controversies related to the demonstrations. On Wednesday, the company said it had terminated two pilots, without disclosing the reason. A well-placed source within the company told CNN the pilots were fired in association with activities related to ongoing protests.

The company source said one of the pilots was charged with rioting in Hong Kong and had been suspended from duty since July 30.

Cathay has also drawn scrutiny from Beijing. China said last week that it would not allow Cathay flights crewed by people who have taken part in “illegal demonstrations, protests and violent attacks” to use its airspace, a rule the airline said it would follow.

China’s aviation authority also said earlier this week that it met with Merlin Swire, the billionaire head of Cathay’s biggest shareholder, Swire Pacific. Swire Pacific has been among the companies to condemn “illegal activities and violent behavior” in Hong Kong.
Worker participation in the protests is not the only issue that Cathay is grappling with. The political turmoil that has engulfed Asia’s premiere financial hub for nearly 11 weeks is also starting to take a toll on Cathay’s bottom line.

The airline was forced to cancel more than 150 flights last week amid a day of mass demonstrations and strikes. This week’s protests at Hong Kong’s international airport led to nearly 1,000 flights being canceled.

Cathay said last week that protests affected its passenger numbers last month, and were continuing to “adversely impact” future bookings.

Cathay’s (CPCAY) stock has plummeted nearly 24% since April.

“It has been my honour to lead the Cathay Pacific Group over the last three years,” Hogg said in a statement. “I am confident in the future of Hong Kong as the key aviation hub in Asia. However, these have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company.”

Hogg will be replaced as CEO by Augustus Tang, the chief executive of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, another Swire firm. Loo will be replaced by Ronald Lam, the head of HK Express, a Cathay subsidiary.

CNN’s Laura He and Sandi Sidhu contributed to this report.


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