The chairman of Hong Kong’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific, John Slosar, is set to retire after donning the chair for 39 years. This retirement announcement also assumes importance because of the resignation of two of the top[ executives of the airlines just a few weeks ago and it is believed that the resignations were a direct result of political pressure of China over the ongoing democracy protests in the island city of Hong Kong. Reports also suggested that the executives of the company were not ready to take action against those employees who supported or participated in the pro-democracy movements.
The political unrest in Hong Kong has also resulted in a fall in bookings for the airlines which is the largest of Hong Kong.
Slosar had considered retiring for “some time”, Cathay Pacific told the media.
In early August, former chief executive Rupert Hogg had reportedly informed the employees of the company that Cathay would not prevent them from participating in the demonstrations in Hong Kong which arguably triggered off the current troubles for the company. However, after facing intense pressure from the Chinese government and a boycott by consumers in mainland China, he was forced to change his stance a week later.
The employees were informed that if they “support or participate in illegal protests”, it could lead to them being fired. Some of the staff members were even dismissed. And after a few days, Hogg, and chief commercial officer Paul Loo resigned from the company and it is believed hat this was because of more political pressure from Beijing.
It was time to put “a new management team in place who can reset confidence”, Slosar said at that time. He had added that “recent events” had put the airline’s “reputation and brand under pressure”.
At most other times, this announcement of the retirement of John Slosar would have been viewed as a routine announcement because it was widely expected that he would retire soon. And yet, the current context of the political situation in Hong Kong and the earlier resignations lend a different color to the announcement.
At the time when the two top bosses of the company supported the staff participating in the pro democracy protests, it was reported that their stance was supported by Slosar and had also reportedly said that Cathay wouldn’t “dream of telling its staff what they have to think about something”.
However later on he changed his stance and according to reports, this was because of demands of suspending workers who supported the protests as was made by the aviation regulator in Beijing.
It is widely being anticipated that questions about the retirement announcement of Slosar would be raised in the near future, even though Cathay and Slosar have said the reason for his departure is his retirement.
It has been 13 weeks that the residents of Hong Kong have been protesting for more democratic rights and less interference from Beijing in the affairs of the island city in line with the one national two regulator agreement was agreed on when the Hong Kong was handed over to China by the British in the 1980s.
(Adapted from BBC.com)