Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific has linked senior-leadership changes to its "commitment to safety and security" and the need to protect the brand.
Airline chairman John Slosar credits outgoing chief executive Rupert Hogg with having "executed the three-year transformation programme which has been important to Cathay Pacific's recovery". However, in an allusion to the political protests in Hong Kong, the Cathay chairman notes that "recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific's commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure".
He adds: "This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority. We therefore think it is time to put a new management team in place who can reset confidence and lead the airline to new heights."
The new team, led by Augustus Tang, will provide "strong and effective" leadership of Cathay "at this sensitive time", Slosar expects.
It was reported that some Cathay Pacific staff members had either joined the pro-democracy protesters or expressed sympathy for them, resulting in pressure from mainland Chinese authorities on the airline and the firing of four employees.
A public notice from the Civil Aviation Administration of China stated that from 10 August, all Cathay employees who supported "illegal protests and violent acts" in Hong Kong "must be immediately suspended from serving any mainland-bound flights or any other transportation activities involving the mainland".
Cathay has also been forced to submit the identity of all crew operating flights to China, as well as those on overflights "for review or check".
The protests have led to massive service disruptions in and out of Hong Kong International airport, forcing authorities to cancel all flights in and out on two consecutive days.
Slosar states: "Cathay Pacific is fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', as enshrined in the basic law. We are confident that Hong Kong will have a great future."