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Cathay Pacific CEO quits amid Hong Kong storm

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Cathay Pacific's outgoing chief executive officer Rupert Hogg. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

The CEO of Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) has resigned amid controversy over the company’s staff policy related to support around the pro-democracy protests in the region.

Cathay Pacific announced on Friday that CEO Rupert Hogg was resigning and will be replaced by Augustus Tang, the current CEO of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO).

Paul Loo is also resigning as chief customer and commercial officer at Cathay Pacific. He has been replaced by Ronald Lam.

Hogg’s resignation follows controversy over the airline’s handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific initially said it would not stop staff from partaking in demonstrations in the region. However, China's Civil Aviation Administration said this week it would ban Cathay Pacific staff from supporting or participating in "illegal demonstrations” in the region.

Hogg told employees the company was legally required to comply, and confirmed staff would be "immediately suspended" from any flights or "air transportation" in China if they were involved in protests. Four employees have since been sacked and a pilot suspended.

READ MORE: Cathay Pacific shares tank as it bows to China to sack staff over Hong Kong protests

“It has been my honour to lead the Cathay Pacific Group over the last three years. I am confident in the future of Hong Kong as the key aviation hub in Asia,” Hogg said in a statement on Friday.

"However, these have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company.”

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

“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.

“Cathay Pacific is fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of ‘One Country Two Systems’ as enshrined in the Basic Law. We are confident that Hong Kong will have a great future.”