Andrew Pyne, Cathay Pacific Airway's general manager for International Affairs, has tendered his resignation and will be joining Bangkok-based Air Andaman as an adviser. Mr Pyne is to join Air Andaman at a time when it is preparing to launch international services to Singapore, India and China. He is believed to have submitted his resignation to Cathay several months ago. Cathay would not confirm Mr Pyne's departure yesterday. A spokeswoman said: 'We don't comment on the personal matters of our employees.' However, a senior Cathay executive said privately that Mr Pyne's last day probably would be in mid-September. Meanwhile, a friend said that Mr Pyne had been 'critical to air service negotiations for a number of years, not just for Cathay but for the Hong Kong aviation industry in general. He will be missed'. Mr Pyne could not be reached for comment. The departure of Cathay's top international negotiator comes as pressure intensifies on officials at the Economic Development and Labour Bureau to forge a new air services agreement with the mainland after six months of discussions. It is understood that Mr Pyne's resignation was unrelated to the slow progress of the talks. Unattributed mainland media reports last weekend said hard-pressed Hong Kong negotiators were now prepared to accept a deal which would not include Cathay being awarded flights to Shanghai, which was believed to be the sticking point in the protracted negotiations. A bureau official dismissed the mainland report this week, but added: 'The interests of individual airlines may have bearing, but they should not dictate the government's position, lest the government be blamed for protecting them at the expense of the overall interest of Hong Kong.' Negotiators for China have been pushing for an aggressive expansion of fifth freedom, or 'fly-beyond', rights through Hong Kong for all mainland airlines and the elimination of the one-carrier per route rule specified in the existing air services agreement. The parties are scheduled to meet again at the end of this month.