Cathay Pacific

Big losses mean Cathay Pacific top brass miss out on bonuses for first time since 2009

CEO Rupert Hogg among lowest-paid airline chiefs, pocketing HK$9.1 million for 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 11:29pm

Cathay Pacific Airways’ top managers did not get bonuses for last year in the wake of big losses, the first time the payouts were withheld since 2009, according to an annual report released on Tuesday.

Chairman John Slosar, CEO Rupert Hogg, Hogg’s predecessor Ivan Chu Kwok-leung, and finance chief Martin Murray were among the executives to miss out on bonuses, paid in line with the carrier’s performance during the previous year.

In 2016, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier lost HK$575 million (US$73.3 million), prompting it to embark on a three-year restructuring of the business and lay off 600 staff along with other cost-cutting measures.

Cathay has suffered from mainland Chinese and Middle Eastern airlines as well as budget carriers poaching passengers with cheaper air tickets.

Following Cathay Pacific’s HK$1.25 billion loss for 2017, bosses had already ruled out taking a bonus for this year, sources said.

Algernon Yau Ying-wah, chief executive of sister airline Cathay Dragon, who was a Cathay Pacific executive director until May 2017, did get a bonus of HK$996,000. The payout was related to his work with the smaller carrier.

The last time Cathay Pacific bosses did not get bonuses was in 2009, after losses in 2008 totalling HK$8.5 billion.

Hogg, elevated to the top job in May last year, was paid HK$9.1 million, down from total remuneration of HK$12 million in the previous 12 months.

According to a Post analysis, the 56-year-old former chief operating officer is one of the lowest-paid chief executives among 25 publicly traded airlines in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America which publish pay data.

On that list, Hogg’s pay – which included an allowance and pension contributions – was only higher than that of the chief executive and founder of Norwegian Air Shuttle, Bjorn Kjos, who took home US$275,000, according to the most recent data from 2016, and Aditya Ghosh of Indian budget airline Indigo, who earned US$1 million in the 2016-17 financial year.

Singapore Airlines’ Goh Choon Phong, whose carrier is closer to Hong Kong’s biggest airline in size, netted US$3.8 million last year. Qantas boss Alan Joyce was best paid among bosses of Asia-Pacific carriers, pocketing US$7.7 million.

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Airlines in North America soared over competitors in Europe and Asia on corporate pay, with Oscar Munoz at United earning US$18.7 million in 2016, prior to the airline’s image being tarnished over a passenger being dragged off a plane.

And Hogg’s pay appears modest among Hong Kong’s top listed companies.

In 2017, HSBC Holdings’ then chief executive Stuart Gulliver took home US$8.5 million, the most among Hang Seng Index companies.