Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Struggling Cathay Pacific names Rupert Hogg CEO

STARTING AT THE TOP:Hong Kong’s flag carrier is in the middle of its biggest business reorganization in two decades as it copes with pressure from low-cost rivals


Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (國泰航空) yesterday named Rupert Hogg as its CEO, replacing Ivan Chu (朱國樑), as Asia’s biggest international airline struggles to revive earnings after reporting its first annual loss in eight years.

Hogg, 55, chief operating officer since March 2014 and a 30-year veteran at parent Swire Group (太古集團), is to take over on May 1, Hong Kong-based Cathay said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Chu is to become chairman of John Swire & Sons (China) Ltd, the statement said.

The change at the top, which usually occurs every three years at the carrier, comes in the midst of the biggest business revamp Cathay has embarked on in two decades to help reverse the decline in performance.

The premium carrier has been under pressure from low-cost rivals in the region and Chinese airlines that are offering direct routes, even as demand for business travel dips.

While sharing sketchy details of its review in January, Cathay said changes “will start at the top” and it would eliminate some positions as part of the revamp, with key changes taking effect by mid-year.

The airline has set a target to save 30 percent in employee costs at its Hong Kong head office, it said last month.

Chu was appointed CEO on March 14, 2014, taking over from now-Swire Group chairman John Slosar.

The carrier’s three most recent CEOs — Chu, Slosar and Tony Tyler — were all operating chiefs before assuming the top post, with each holding the job for about three years.

Shares of Cathay dropped about 30 percent since Chu became CEO, compared with a 12 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index in the same period.

The carrier last month reported a net loss of HK$575 million (US$74 million at the current exchange rate) for last year.

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