Cathay Pacific kowtows

August 16, 2019

So Rupert Hogg has been “resigned” for, apparently, declining to kowtow sufficiently to Emperor Xi; I imagine it’s only a matter of time before Mr Slosar goes too since he is on record as saying “You would easily imagine that within that 27,000 we have virtually every opinion on every issue… we certainly wouldn’t dream of telling them what they have to think about something.”

This is clearly not compatible with the Communist Party’s view of how companies should work. But, of course, Slosar is a Chinese Citizen (having renounced his American citizenship some time back) so maybe he gets cut some slack for that.

It was a while ago now, but I used to be in board meetings in Shanghai of a wholly foreign-owned enterprise and there was always the very discomfiting figure in the corner taking careful notes. This was, of course, the Communist Party representative, and I guess that part of the deal that was forced on Merlin Swire in his recent summons to Beijing was to accept such Party control over Cathay’s board.

I spent a large part of the decade 1998-2008 on Cathay planes and they were, particularly at the beginning of that period, quite simply the world’s best airline. (I also spent enough time on plenty of other airlines to be able to judge.) It is clear now that they are well down the road to their full takeover by Air China, which is a mid-tier airline at best. It’s a shame, but I guess all good things must come to an end.