This week’s shake-up of Cathay Pacific’s senior management team is set to bring major changes to the airline from January. Backed by its largest shareholders, Swire Pacific and Air China, long-standing industry veterans Ronald Lam, Lavinia Lau, and Alex McGowan will lead the carrier through its intensive long-term post-pandemic recovery.

New year, new management

After three and a half years as CEO Augustus Tang will step down on December 31 to be replaced by current Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam on January 1, 2023.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, Lam initially joined Cathay Pacific through its management training program back in 1996, going on to hold a range of senior management positions for Cathay Pacific, its subsidiaries, and sister companies, including Director of Commercial and Cargo at Cathay Pacific, Director of Hong Kong Operations for Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited, and Chair of low-cost carrier HK Express.

Cathay Pacific CEO-designate Ronald Lam

Photo: Cathay Pacific

As reported by South China Morning Post, Lam’s appointment is rumored to have been planned for some time, with industry insiders considering him a natural choice owing to his extensive resume.

While retaining his role at HK Express, current Director of Customer Travel Lavinia Lau will replace Lam as Chief Customer and Commercial Officer from January 1, placing her prime to become Cathay Pacific’s first female Chief Executive.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Ronald on his well-deserved appointment to Chief Executive Officer,” commented airline Chairman Patrick Healy.

“I have worked very closely with Ronald in recent years, and I have been impressed by his long-term vision for the company, his intellect, and his determination to see the Group succeed. He is without doubt ready to lead our organisation on our path to becoming one of the world’s greatest service brands.”

Director of Service Delivery Alex McGowan will succeed Greg Hughes as Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer on April 1, following Hughes’ retirement from the group. McGowan will also fill Hughes’ position as Chair of Cathay Pacific’s cargo-based subsidiary Air Hong Kong.

Other notable appointments include Erica Peng as Director of Customer Travel, Mandy Ng as Director of Service Delivery, and Jeanette Mao as CEO of HK Express.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900

Photo: Cathay Pacific

Push for recovery

Wednesday’s management changes come at a vital time for Cathay Pacific as it steams ahead with its post-COVID recovery plans to rebuild capacity across its network. The airline was hit hard by China’s zero-covid policies, which saw air traffic at Hong Kong International Airport drop off almost overnight.

While the recent relaxation of the country’s quarantine laws has allowed for some relief, Cathay Pacific noted that it anticipates another two years of reduced activity owed-in part to its ongoing staffing issues. The carrier laid off 8,500 staff members through the pandemic, including 1,500 pilots.

Cathay Pacific is looking to hire 4,000 front-line employees, with around half to include cabin crew members and pilots. Speaking to Hong Kong Free Press in October, incumbent Manager of Inflight Service Delivery Jeanette Mao assured that despite the current staff shortages, the airline has enough crew members for its current capacity levels, aiming for its rolling recruitment drive to fill future positions.

What are your thoughts on Cathay Pacific’s new senior management team? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: Bloomberg, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Free Press

  • Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-367(ER) B-KPM

    Cathay Pacific

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hong Kong International Airport

    Year Founded:


    Augustus Tang

    China (Special Administrative Region)


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