Every story needs a hero, but there’s no storybook ending here…
There’s a story circulating right now, which probably can’t ever fully be validated unless Rupert Hogg, or the Chinese Government, decide to, and I don’t expect either to have much to say. But if the stories are true, which I do believe them to be, Rupert Hogg, the recently resigned CEO of Cathay Pacific is a leader, and really – he’s a hero.
Last week, Rupert Hogg stunned the aviation world, resigning as the CEO of Cathay Pacific. The Hong Kong based airline is currently embroiled in the very fluid goings on of the pro-democracy, anti Beijing influence rallies which are catching international attention. Many Hong Kong citizens are protesting an an extradition law and increasing Chinese reach into the “two systems” approach, and coverage came to light which highlighted Cathay Pacific crew members and pilots joining in.
In a jarring move, the CAAC – China’s Aviation Authority- made unprecedented demands for personnel lists for all Cathay flight flying over or into Chinese airspace. It was clear that Beijing would bar anyone who had participated in anti government rallies from being allowed to crew a flight, and took further action to bar state owned businesses from using Cathay as an airline. Before they were finished, they demanded that heads roll. And here’s where the rumour started…
The Rupert Hogg Rumour That Touched Hearts
A widely publicised rumour made the rounds over the night of the backstory behind Rupert Hogg’s departure. It’s a beautiful story, albeit untrue. As the story went, Chinese Authorities demanded a list of all Cathay Pacific employees who had participated in the protests, or else. As a symbol of respect, leadership and stewardship for his team, Mr. Hogg wrote just one name – his. In doing so, he ended any chance of remaining on board, and took one for the entire team.
It’s important to reiterate that this absolutely did not happen, but it does not mean that Mr. Hogg was not a wonderful leader. Could he have simply refused to hand over names? Absolutely, but by credible accounts, there was no movie scene ending where he presented a list with one name.
EVERYONE: STOP TWEETING ABOUT RUPERT HOGG RESIGNING, REFUSING TO SUBMIT NAMES OF STAFFERS TO BEIJING.
THIS IS FAKE.
(AND ALSO DOING MY HEAD IN ALL DAY)
— Danny Lee (@JournoDannyAero) August 20, 2019
He was. As CEO, Rupert Hogg is credited with turning around Cathy Pacific’s dire financial fortunes and restoring it to profitability, amidst increasing competition from state owned Chinese airlines. Ultimately, according to the inimitable Danny Lee at SCMP, Mr. Hogg was forced out in no uncertain terms by Chinese Aviation Authority demands, and unlike many in the Swire Group, he was forced out entirely, not just reassigned.
Thus were the unfortunate terms set by Chinese authorities. Cathay Pacific Chairman John Slosar has commented that a shake up was needed to restore confidence – read as, appease Beijing which had the airline in a operational vice – and one Augustus Tang has been named CEO. Naturally, he’s noted a need for security and safety, the two talking points set forth by Beijing, despite the airlines industry leading safety record.