A few weeks ago Cathay Pacific’s CEO suddenly resigned, and now Cathay Pacific’s Chairman is resigning as well.
John Slosar Resigns As Cathay Pacific Chairman
It has just been announced that Cathay Pacific Chairman John Slosar will be “retiring” as of November 6, 2019.
For those of you not familiar, 62 year-old Slosar has been at Swire Group (Cathay Pacific’s parent company) for nearly 40 years. He was Cathay Pacific’s CEO from 2011 to 2014, before being appointed Chairman.
The Board of Directors has appointed Patrick Healy to the role of Cathay Pacific Chairman. He has been at Swire Group since 1988. He’s currently the Managing Director of Swire Coca-Cola Limited, and will maintain that role, responsible for the Group’s worldwide beverages business.
What Executives Are Saying
Slosar had the following to say regarding his retirement:
“Being the Chairman of Cathay Pacific has been the greatest of privileges for me. I would like to thank the entire Cathay team for their support, commitment and friendship during my years as part of that team. They are always at their best in challenging times, when their dedication really shines through. Pat is a strong and experienced executive, having successfully led a number of different Swire businesses. He is creative and customer-focused, and I am sure he will lead Cathay Pacific to new heights.”
Healy had the following to say about his new role:
“I look forward to working closely with CEO Augustus Tang, my long-term Swire colleague, his talented team and the entire Board of Directors. Together, and with the support of the Cathay team, we will ensure that our airlines focus relentlessly on safety, on enhancing the travel experiences of our customers, on being efficient in everything that we do, and on competing effectively to create positive business performance.”
Merlin Swire, the Chairman of Swire Pacific, said the following:
“I would like to thank John for his tremendous contributions to the company over the past 39 years. Under his leadership as the Chief Executive Officer and then as Chairman, Cathay has built on its already enviable reputation for quality service and the extensive global network which underpins the success of Hong Kong as Asia’s largest international passenger hub. The three-year transformation programme now nearing completion leaves Cathay well-positioned for continued growth in the future.”
What Does This Mean For Cathay Pacific?
Cathay Pacific has had an incredibly tough few weeks, reflecting the challenges that have gone on in Hong Kong for months now.
Hong Kong Airport ended up being shut down due to protests, and China ended up using the airline as a way to get some control, by trying to get Cathay Pacific to punish workers who had participated in protests.
So while perhaps not direct, it does seem that a lot of changes at the top are being made to appease China, and to create a sacrificial lamb.
With that in mind, I have a few general takeaways here.
First of all, I find the public message from Slosar to be interesting. When Hogg resigned, he said the following, in part:
“These have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company.”
While likely just political, the tone here is different, as if he just happens to be retiring right now. There’s nothing about taking responsibility for what has happened.
Second of all, I find it interesting that Swire Group is clearly succumbing to pressure from China, though they’re just replacing current executives with other people within the company.
Swire retains their talent well, and all of these executives have been at Swire Group for decades.
It sure seems like the “retiring” and “resigning” executives are just being used as sacrificial lamb. The company is replacing the current executives with other executives from within the company, who likely have similar philosophies.
What do you make of the resignation of Cathay Pacific’s Chairman?