Cathay Pacific CEO resigns amid riots

By Zhang Hui and Shen Weiduo Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/16 21:48:40

Might not help airline win back Chinese consumers as boycott remains

The Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd logo is displayed atop a building at Cathay Pacific City, the company's headquarters, in Hong Kong in August, 2018. Photo:VCG

The resignation of two senior executives of Cathay Pacific Airways might not help the Hong Kong-based airline win back Chinese consumers who persisted with their boycott and demanded that it severely punish its radical employees. 

Industry analysts said the airline's delay in drawing a clear line with company staff who supported the radical protesters has already hurt its reputation, and will not be that easy to repair, as it has touched the "bottom line" of many of its mainland passengers who used to be its loyal customers.

Cathay Pacific announced the resignation of two executives on Friday, including CEO Rupert Hogg and Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo, according to a statement it sent to the Global Times on Friday.

The reshuffle comes amid mounting criticism of the airline due to its lukewarm attitude in drawing a line with its radical employees in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Cathay Pacific chairman John Slosar said in the statement that the top management reshuffle was due to the recent events that have caused its commitment to flight safety and security to be questioned and put pressure on its reputation, stressing that it fully supports the Basic Law and "one country, two systems" principle.

However, as a company that has been harshly and widely criticized for tacitly encouraging anti-government strikes in Hong Kong, taking part in protests and leaking confidential customer information, Cathay Pacific's latest gesture was viewed by many as too little to restore its scarred reputation and the loss of customers. 

"When the root is completely damaged, there is nothing you can do to save it. Just shut down the company!" a netizen said on China's Twitter-like Weibo on Friday.  

Many netizens said they would not risk flying Cathay Pacific unless the company holds radical employees who supported or participated in violent protests in Hong Kong accountable. 

One netizen said, "I don't want to be the victim of the next 911 attack, and I don't want to send my money to Cathay Pacific to support its secessionist employees."

Cathay Pacific has been in hot water since July for failing to properly rein in its employees who participated in protests. A strike on August 5 involved over 3,000 Cathay Pacific employees, media reported. 

The company allowed one of its pilots who was charged with rioting to fly, and it only suspended him from flying duties after receiving strong condemnation from Chinese mainland passengers. 

Guo Ning, an industry analyst, told the Global Times on Friday that in the Hong Kong case, Cathay Pacific clearly lacks a "political position," and its prior behavior was disappointing, even "resentful."

Although clarifying its political stance is quite significant, as seen in its latest announcement, people still need to see whether the company does what it promised, especially under the new leadership, Guo noted.

Guo said the move should also be part of the consensus reached after the meeting between the Swire Group, the airline's major shareholder, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

CAAC issued a major air safety warning to the company on August 9. The regulator demanded that the airline bar crew who have joined or supported illegal protests from operating flights to the mainland or through its airspace.

The analyst warned that when it comes to political issues, it should never "overly agree while covertly oppose, as every Chinese person who cares about the fate of Hong Kong will not allow similar things from happening again."

Posted in: SOCIETY

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