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Cathay promotes operating chief Rupert Hogg to CEO after loss

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 17:38

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Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. named Rupert Hogg as its chief executive officer, replacing Ivan Chu, as Asia's biggest international airline struggles to revive earnings after reporting its first annual loss in eight years.

[SINGAPORE] Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. named Rupert Hogg as its chief executive officer, replacing Ivan Chu, as Asia's biggest international airline struggles to revive earnings after reporting its first annual loss in eight years.

Mr Hogg, 55, chief operating officer since March 2014 and a 30-year veteran at parent Swire Group, will take over May 1, Hong Kong-based Cathay said in a statement to the stock exchange Wednesday. Mr Chu will become chairman of John Swire & Sons (China) Ltd, according to the statement.

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.

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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 per cent in employee costs at its Hong Kong head office, it said last month.

Mr Chu was appointed CEO on March 14 2014, taking over from John Slosar, the current chairman of Swire Group. The carrier's three most recent CEOs - Mr Chu, Mr 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 per cent since Mr Chu became CEO, compared with a 12 per cent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index in the same period. The carrier last month reported a net loss of HK$575 million (S$104.1 million) for 2016.

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