Cathay Pacific CEO resigns amid Hong Kong protest controversy

Cathay Pacific Airways CEO Rupert Hogg has resigned, one week after Hong Kong’s flag carrier was caught in a political controversy over the involvement of its employees in mass anti-Beijing protests that have rocked the city.

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Hogg, 57, resigned to “take responsibility as a leader of the company in view of recent events,” Cathay said in a stock exchange filing released Friday. The company said that Paul Loo, the COO, has also resigned. The resignations are effective Monday.

Cathay came under fire last week when China accused its workers of participating in “illegal protests,” which -- now in their 10th week -- have spread to reflect wider demands for democratic reform, including calls for more direct elections and the removal of Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam. Clashes between protesters and police have also increasingly descended into violence.

After employees partook in the protests, China responded by cracking down on the airline; the Civil Aviation Administration of China rebuked the company, banning any of its staff who support the protest from entering mainland China airspace.

According to the South Morning China Post, Cathay has fired two pilots after it suspended them for their involvement in the anti-government protests.

The company’s bottom-line was also hurt this week when protesters disrupted operations at Hong Kong’s airport twice, resulting in scores of canceled flights. Cathay said it canceled more than 270 flights as a result, affecting close to 55,000 passengers.

Augustus Tang will take over as CEO, and Ronald Lam as COO.