HONG KONG – The chairman of Hong Kong’s airline Cathay Pacific resigned on Wednesday, following a controversy surrounding the company with the participation of some of its employees in the protests across the city.
In a statement filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange – where the company is listed – the airline said that John Slosar’s resignation was due to his retirement and he was “not aware of any matter relating to his resignation that needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders.”
Patrick Healy, who was with Cathay’s parent company Swire Pacific, will replace Slosar.
Slosar’s resignation that ended 39 years of his career with the conglomerate comes following Chief Executive Rupert Hogg’s resignation on Aug. 16.
Hogg acknowledged that it had been a few complicated weeks for the Cathay Pacific and believed that along with the company’s Commercial Officer Paul Loo the right step was to take responsibility for recent events.
Although initially Cathay Pacific said it could not do anything to stop its employees from participating in the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s response changed their stance.
Hong Kong has been on the edge as over a contentious extradition bill that sparked months of protests across the special administrative region. The bill, which was finally withdrawn on Wednesday, could have enabled suspects to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China to face trial under Beijing’s judicial system.
CAAC, in early August, said that a Cathay Pacific pilot had been formally charged with a crime of “revolt,” punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for participating in unauthorized protests.
The aviation authority denounced that the company had allowed the pilot to continue flying and said that such incidents severely affect aviation security.
Since then, the authority has requested Cathay to send a list with details of all its personnel in every flight for review and reserved the right to deny landing in China or the use of its airspace by the airline’s flights whose crew has not been scrutinized or approved by the institution.
Cathay has since fired the pilot along with another who had posted a message in support of the protests on social media.
Rebecca Sy, head of Cathay Dragon’s Airlines Flight Attendants’ Association, was also dismissed for the same reason, leading to hundreds of people marching in protest.
In one of the latest problems for Cathay Pacific, some 40 flight attendants were suspended as a result of an investigation into empty oxygen bottles in at least three flights of the airline.