Chair of Cathay Pacific to retire after staff involvement in protests

By Tu Lei Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/4 21:53:41

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

Embattled Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday that Chairman John Slosar will retire soon, against the background of some of its staff having been involved in recent disturbances in Hong Kong.

He will be replaced by Patrick Healy, who has been at the airline's top shareholder Swire Pacific for years. Healy spent 14 years with the group's beverage division in the Chinese mainland.

The company said Slosar, 63, will retire at the conclusion of the next board meeting on November 6. Slosar has been in the position since March 2014. 

"His retire shows that the group is paying their price for its past conniving attitude on pro-riot staff," Guo Ning, a veteran airline expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

He added that the newly appointed chairman has some background in the mainland, which may benefit the group in terms of government communications. 

On August 16, two senior executives, CEO Rupert Hogg and Paul Loo, chief customer and commercial officer, resigned. At that time, Slosar said that recent events had called into question the group's commitment to flight safety and security and put the reputation and brand under pressure. 

"This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority. 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," Slosar said. 

Cathay Pacific reported a HK$1.35 billion ($171.84 million) net profit for the six months ended on June 30, compared with a year-earlier loss of HK$263 million.

Insiders said tourists originating in the Chinese mainland may flock to neighboring airports such as those in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, if the riots in Hong Kong don't end, which may cast a shadow on the firm's market performance. 

Guo said that the group should draw a clear line on pro-riot protesters, and even take measures such as cutting flights to save the labor that supports the protests in Hong Kong. 

Cathay has said repeatedly that it takes a "zero-tolerance" approach to any support for, or participation in, illegal protests, and claimed that it supports the upholding of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and all the rights and freedoms afforded by it.

However, the group on Tuesday confirmed that the cabin crew on three recent Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights have been suspended from flight duties to facilitate investigations, as some portable oxygen bottles stored onboard were found to have been discharged or partially discharged.

Cathay Pacific Group said last month that traffic into Hong Kong, both for business and leisure, has weakened substantially. The group also sees outbound Hong Kong traffic starting to soften, particularly for its short-haul network.

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