In this Aug 7, 2018 file photo, a Cathay Pacific Airways passenger aircraft takes off from the Hong Kong International Airport. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)
Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday that long-serving executive Ronald Lam would take over as chief executive from Jan 1, with current boss Augustus Tang set to retire, as the pandemic-hit airline rebuilds capacity.
Ronald Lam, 50, who joined Cathay in 1996, was previously Cathay Pacific's chief customer and commercial officer and viewed by analysts as the most likely successor to the current CEO Augustus Tang
Lam, 50, who joined Cathay in 1996, was previously the airline's chief customer and commercial officer and viewed by analysts as the most likely successor to Tang, 64, at an airline where the chief executive's tenure is usually around three years.
Tang and Lam took on the top jobs at Cathay in August 2019 after Chief Executive Rupert Hogg and Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo resigned.
Tang, 64, was previously the chief executive of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, which like Cathay is managed by Swire Pacific Ltd, and had been close to retirement before stepping in to run the airline at a time of crisis, according to industry sources.
Cathay appointed its director of customer travel Lavinia Lau, 52, as its new chief customer and commercial officer, placing her in a strong position to eventually become the airline's first female chief executive.
Lam's appointment to the top job comes as the carrier looks to rebuild capacity now that Hong Kong has ended hotel quarantine rules for passengers and crew.
The airline's passenger numbers in September were 89 percent below the same month in 2019, when traffic had already been lower than normal
READ MORE: Cathay Pacific to add over 2,000 flights by end of year
Cathay has said it expects to reach a third of pre-pandemic passenger capacity by year-end.
The Hong Kong carrier, which plans to hire 4,000 more staff over the next 18 to 24 months as travel rebounds, has said adding more flights is a priority but it would take time to train crew and reactivate aircraft.