Cathay Pacific CEO resigns after pressure from Beijing

17 Août, 2019, 07:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Chinese military forces massing across the border from Hong Kong

"The recent local social incidents, if continued, will cause significant disruptions to inbound tourism and consumption-related economic activities, further dampen economic sentiment, and even hurt the reputation of Hong Kong as an global financial and business centre", government economist Andrew Au said in a statement.

Cathay shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange closed at HK$10.6 (16:09 local time) today (16 August), reaching a high of HK$10.7 after opening at HK$10.5.

Cathay's new chief executive Mr Tang was the head of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, which is also owned by Swire. Police have denied permission for the march on Sunday, but protesters have ignored such denials in the past.

"Recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific's commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure", Chairman John Slosar said in a statement. One of the pilots was arrested and charged with rioting.

The 72-year-old airline has been left reeling after it became ensnared in the hardening of rhetoric from the communist mainland over weeks of anti-government protests that have plunged Hong Kong into crisis.

The board appointed Augustus Tang, 60, as Cathay's new CEO, according to a statement from the company Friday.

Before being caught in the crossfire of Hong Kong's political clashes, Cathay had already suffered from the Chinese slowdown and the effects of the US-China trade skirmishes, with its cargo business taking a hit as exports slowed. China has used words like "violent" and "terrorism" to describe the protests by the young people in the island.

Last week, Cathay Pacific had told its staff it would not stop them joining the pro-democracy demonstrations now sweeping Hong Kong.

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"However, these have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company". Thousands of protesters thronged the streets of the city and descended on the airport, making it impossible for passengers to travel. Many businesses, including other major property developers, have publicly backed Lam's administration and the city's police.

He made no reference to supporting the government or its embattled leader, Carrie Lam, in the advertisements, which encouraged freedom, tolerance and the rule of law.

If, in the worst-case scenario, the airport once again grinds to a halt as a result of mass protests, it will fuel worries about the city's economic prospects and the prospect of a recession.

Later in the day, police carried out exercises in which they divided into two groups, one wearing black t-shirts similar to those worn by some protesters in Hong Kong.

The economy shrank 0.4 percent in April-June from the previous quarter, revised government data shows, and conditions have sharply deteriorated since then as demonstrations spread, closing the airport at one stage and paralysing prime shopping areas.

Chinese paramilitary forces have conducted crowd-control drills near the border with Hong Kong.

Beijing jolted Hong Kong companies last week when it warned that Cathay Pacific employees who "support or take part in illegal protests" would be barred from flying to or over the mainland.

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