Update: It appears that Hogg did not defy Beijing in such a dramatic fashion. In fact, the circumstances behind his termination remain unclear. The original article below remains unaltered.
Leadership is built on integrity. Former Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg is now a hero. He would also be a great CEO of American Airlines.
We knew that Beijing forced Hogg out. But now we know the circumstances behind it. China’s Civil Aviation Administration asked Cathay Pacific to compile a list of Cathay Pacific employees who had protested.
The submitted list included only one name: Hogg.
If true, what a beautiful act of peaceful resistance. Whatever your views on the topic of Hong Kong, there is a big difference between supporting self-determination and supporting violence. Hogg was the sacrificial lamb in more ways than I imagined…
> Read More: Cathay Pacific CEO Becomes Sacrificial Lam(b)…
Meanwhile, American Airlines is dealing with an identity crisis of its own. The carrier loses money flying…it profits on the back of its AAdvantage loyalty program. Front and center in the debate is American’s poor relationship with most of its unions. Employees are angry…and passengers have noticed. Throw in a summer of perpetual delays and cancellations and you are left with an airline still with great potential but lacking the direction and vision to take advantage of this uniquely profitable period in the cyclical world of the airline industry.
> Read More: American Airlines Running Out of Employee Groups to Offend
Imagine Hogg as the AA CEO. He has just proven valiantly that he stands up for employees. Thus, he starts from a position of trust, not skepticism. Past actions are not necessarily indicative of future behavior, but Hogg’s record suggests a less confrontational approach that will allow him to instill other values into frontline employees.
How Hogg Could Make A Difference at AA
It’s foolish to speculate about bringing Cathay Pacific levels of first class service to American Airlines…but treating every passenger with dignity starts when the CEO treats every employee with dignity. Insight gained from his years at Swire and Cathay Pacific may help Hogg to cultivate a better customer service model and increase customer satisfaction scores. If nothing else, Hogg is an outsider to the American corporate world and therefore likely has a clearer perspective that the status quo is not working.
From a shareholder perspective, Hogg helped to turn Cathay Pacific as well from inefficient to efficient in a highly competitive region. This is the sort of vision AA needs as well, as it falls behind to Delta and United. Hong Kong is hardly a western Europe bastion of labor rights. Six-day work weeks and low wages underscore that Hogg will not offer unnecessary concessions to employees.
In short, Hogg possesses a number of excellent qualities that lay the groundwork for a successful tenure as CEO of AA.
Just to note, I’m not a huge critic of Doug Parker. I laughed at “Nostradamus” Parker promising eternal profits. Furthermore, I think AA has made strategic blunders with its cabin interiors (737 Oasis) and AAdvantage program. Clearly, employees across the board are not happy, which represents a failure in leadership. Yet, by all accounts Parker is a decent guy who cannot be blamed for the 737 MAX issues eroding profits. Thus, my analysis is not driven by any animosity toward Parker.
It would not surprise me if Hogg is already talking to several airlines about a new job. It would behoove American Airlines to make him an attractive offer, even if he has to wait a bit longer for the corner suite.
image: Cathay Pacific
Danny Lee at the SCMP is saying this story isn’t true. He tweeted about it as well.
Even if not true, I still think he’d be a great CEO of AA. Too bad if story is fake.
Yeah, the only place this story is running is the original source of the Taiwanese press and OMAAT. I want this to be true as we could all use some feel good stories about great leadership these days. But I fear it may be more myth.
FWIW International Business Daily is also running the story.
While I agree with all your other points, the story about Hogg submitting the list with only his name is clearly fake. You should clarify that.
There’s enough pernicious, open dishonesty coming from governments from Washington to Beijing to Moscow already. It’s killing us (literally), its destroying democracy around the world, and it’s turning otherwise normal people into complete morons unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality (or even recognize that those are two different things). Everyone who willingly furthers this trend does real damage to us all. Please stop, reconsider this, and Do The Right Thing. In this case, that means stopping the spread of lies disguised as “news” even if we all wish it were true. We all have a stake in this. It matters. Please stop normalizing lies.
I will add a disclaimer about veracity of story. Did not see Danny Lee piece before I wrote this (yesterday). On a plane now.
Fair enough, and thank you. As you said above: “Leadership is built on integrity.”
He won’t be able to run any airline that does any business with mainland China, which is almost all of them. This is how China operates. If they can destroy a HK CEO, they can destroy any CEO by threatening to cut off access to the China market if not removed. We have played the role of China’s lapdog for far too long. The tough stand against China is long overdue.
Fair enough, and thank you. As you said above: “Leadership is built on integrity.”
Ugg – sorry, this comment was in reply to Matthew’s response above. Please ignore the duplicate post and associated noise.
(And, WR2, you’re right, too).
The story from the beginning smelled like a propaganda piece put out there by anti-China factions. But my guess is there is a kernel of truth to the general idea that Hogg either balked or expressed displeasure at turning over the list, and thus his firing actually was politically motivated. And therein lies the rub. If the Chinese did orchestrate Hogg’s firing, do you really think any American carrier would willingly hire him, sticking a fork in China’s eye in the process? I doubt any of the big three would willingly do that.
And we wonder why/how disinformation spreads so easily.
As romantically as any of you could imagine that a CEO stands up for freedom and democracy defending its employees up against a dictatorial communism, the government of USA still, up to this very day only acknowledge one Chinese nation, PRC. There’s no USA embassy in Taipei, Taiwan, vice versa Washington DC.
The explanation of his resignation is very simple. He got a stellar resume and reference in the industry, why risk it caught in the middle of political rift? Its either go against PRC’s sovereignity or be targeted by the so-called-pro-democracy-and-freedom movement. Anyone with enough sanity would go away and look for a job somewhere else. As simple as that.
If we’re coming from a “practically ANYONE is better than Dougie P (and his minions from America West/US Airways) running American Airlines” perspective, then yeah sure, perhaps Rupert Hogg might make for a good candidate to succeed Dougie P – since just about ANYONE (save for maybe: Carl Icahn who ran TWA into the ground; Frank Lorenzo, who ran Eastern, Continental, and others, into the ground; or Jeff Smisek, who almost ran United into the ground…) IS better than Dougie is.
But, truth be told, at least from an economy class passenger’s perspective for a flight taken late last year between Manila and Hong Kong, I was underwhelmed to put it mildly.
Meh, at best.
Whereas by contrast, for flights of a similar length Taipei-Manila and Hong Kong-Manila on China Airlines, also in economy class, everything, except perhaps the slightly older interiors of CI’s Airbus A330-300s was so much better.
Check-in; flight attendants; and especially the meals (we found the breakfast Taipei-Manila to be among the best tasting inflight breakfasts in ANY class [1st, biz, or PE] on any airline, domestic or foreign in a very long time!) were all vastly superior on CI than our Cathay Pacific flight where CX was NOT even close.
If anything, CX’s breakfast was a tasteless, bread-y fail, they’d be better off NOT serving at all.
That, plus Cathay Pacific’s decision during Hogg’s tenure to stuff an extra (10th) seat per row on its Boeing 777s for ultra long haul flights, hardly impresses.
But hey, that’s from the perspective of an economy class passenger.
No doubt, the pampered and cosseted folk still enjoy Cathay’s legendary exceptional service that the airline used to be known for, say like Singapore Airlines, in all classes, that I waited a lifetime hoping to experience even as an economy class passenger that instead was spectacular for how underwhelming it was – and SOOOOOOO disappointing. 🙁
So, come to think of it, maybe Hogg would be a perfect fit to replace Dougie at AA after all since he’s a firm believer in the airline industry’s elitist agenda to impose a caste system that caters only to big spenders – even if the vast majority of passengers (typically 85%) fly economy class, and of course, NO major airline would even exist without this 85% of fare paying (and CEO salary paying) “class” of people that American Airlines NEVER misses an opportunity to disregard, disrespect and screw over (say, for example decision announced just this past week to keep their hated and reviled “Oasis” cabins while “tweaking” 1st class for the better).
So, yep, maybe Hogg would be perrrrrfffect at AA as “Dougie P ‘Lite’”! 😉
Oh, that’s Taipei-Manila AND Hong Kong-Taipei for the China Airlines (CI) flights discussed in the prior comments posted above.
With apologies for the editing error that went unseen until only after posting. ( 🙂 )
The only slowdown is manufactured by American Airlines, 2003 AA got concessions from Ground Workgroups to prevent bankruptcy filing only to pass the 2008 Amendable date with NO new contract. Concession Contract talks stalled until November 2011 AA Bankruptcy Filing with Billions on hand and largest aircraft order in history.
AA used Bankruptcy law as a business plan to destroy aviation careers with the loss of benefits, jobs , and outsourcing. Now with the Bankruptcy Contract past it’s Amendable date of September 2018, Here the Ground Workgroups of AA sit with broken promises, uncertainty and more disappointments. AA Executives have enriched themselves, AA has bought Billions in stock buybacks, building a hotel in the amount of 250 million or more, building of maintenance hangars in Chile and Brazil, and the tight lip budget of the New Headquarters building in Dallas.
But the AA Executives have a difficult time getting a Contract for the Complex Ground Workgroups. It is hard to get a Contract for Ground Workgroups if AA Executive Leadership doesn’t schedule talks. No urgency by AA to show fairness to Ground Workgroups speaks volumes. Ground Workgroups deserves better, ALL Workgroups deserves better!!
The slowdown or work action is coming from American Airlines Executives Leadership-Unacceptable by any measure of fairness….
American Airlines “Good Faith Negotiations” 3 Years , 8 Months , 2 Weeks, 5 Days , and counting. NO schedule Negotiations last Negotiations was in April.
Good News AA Executives are receiving millions in Bonuses and Stock — good job
Just curious, do you think AA should give people back pay for the last 15 years? Or is it more important for the contract going forward? Assuming it’s the latter, (past is the past, not current group’s responsibility to fix what happened 15 years ago), do you REALLY think it’s a bad offer on the table? As I understand, AA leadership has said they will sign any other airlines’ deal today – you want United’s? Southwest’s? Having an “industry leading contract” does not mean that EVERY aspect of the contract is better than anyone else’s. It’s the value as a whole. They have a contract on the table that is better than anyone else. Yet the union won’t bring it to a vote? You make this sound like it’s one-sided and a management issue instead of the Association taking any accountability for doing an absolute pathetic job.