Cathay Pacific

Hongkonger takes top job at Cathay

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 5:27am

Cathay Pacific Airways will again have a Hong Kong-born chief executive in March when Ivan Chu Kwok-leung takes up the position.

It has been seven years since the top job at the city's biggest airline was last filled by a Hongkonger. Chu, 51, is also one of the youngest Cathay chiefs ever.

Chu joined the airline as a management trainee in 1984 after graduating from the University of Hong Kong. He has been chief operating officer since 2011.

Chief executive John Slosar will succeed Christopher Pratt, 57, who will retire in March as chairman of the carrier and its parent, Swire Pacific, as well as John Swire & Sons (HK) and Swire Properties.

The easygoing and media-friendly Chu was the public face of Cathay when the airline encountered occasional, severe service disruptions while he was director of service delivery before 2011.

Slosar, 57, joined the Swire Group in 1980 and was appointed managing director of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering in 1996. From 1998 to 2007, he was managing director of Swire Beverages. He was named chief operating officer of Cathay in 2007, and then chief executive in 2011.

Slosar told the South China Morning Post that one similarity between running a fast-moving consumer goods business and an airline was creating an urge in the customer to return.

He pioneered the premium economy class in Cathay and executed the plan to replace the infamous business-class seats in a fishbone layout with the award-winning new business-class seats.

Pratt joined the Swire Group in 1978 and has been chairman in Hong Kong since February 2006. His retirement had been rumoured in the company for a while, and it had been speculated that Slosar was the front runner to succeed him.