Cathay Pacific Airways said Chairman John Slosar will resign, announcing the departure less than a month after the embattled carrier’s CEO, Rupert Hogg, stepped down to take responsibility for Beijing’s scrutiny of Hong Kong’s flag airline.
Slosar, 63, is retiring and will be replaced by Patrick Healy, 53, Cathay said Wednesday in a filing. Healy joined Cathay’s parent Swire Group in 1988, the airline said. The changes are scheduled to go into effect after a November 6 board meeting.
Swire is cleaning house at its most high-profile asset to avoid falling further afoul of Beijing. The airline has become a symbol of the danger companies face in Hong Kong as they seek to steer clear of angering China — mainland authorities imposed a swathe of demands on the airline for its workers’ participation in Hong Kong’s anti-Beijing demonstrations.
After China’s aviation watchdog slapped the demands on Cathay last month, the company appeared to swing into action, with group chairman Merlin Swire flying into Beijing to meet with Chinese authorities soon after. Then Hogg stepped down abruptly days later to take responsibility for the airline’s troubles. At least seven other employees have also left the carrier amidst the turmoil.
A general strike last month caused a shutdown of Hong Kong’s airport, canceling hundreds of flights from Cathay’s hub. Meanwhile, some Chinese state-owned firms have boycotted the airline, raising further concerns that the demonstrations in the city could undermine the company’s efforts to turn around its business.
The airline has warned that it expects “significant impact” on its revenue from August and beyond as the protests weigh on travel demand. Both business and leisure travel into Hong Kong has “weakened substantially” and traffic from the city has started to soften, especially on short-haul routes to China and South Korea, Cathay has said.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.