HK Express gets first female CEO as Mandy Ng steps into the hot seat at Hong Kong budget airline

Danny Lee

The small club of female CEOs running airlines just got bigger on Monday as Mandy Ng Kit-man was appointed to the top job at the Cathay Pacific budget airline HK Express.

Ng will become the first woman to lead a local airline.

The appointment means that all three Cathay Pacific-run airlines are headed by Chinese nationals.

Augustus Tang Kin-wing heads up Cathay Pacific, while sister carrier Cathay Dragon is led by Algernon Yau.

Ng, described as a veteran of the airline business, having been with Cathay Pacific for 17 years, was appointed to the top job with immediate effect, the company said, as Ronald Lam Siu-por returned to the parent airline, amid the sudden management upheaval at Hong Kong’s flagship airline group.

Lam is now Cathay Pacific’s chief customer and commercial officer and the airline’s joint second-in-command. He was HK Express CEO for around 30 days but will now take on the chairman’s role at the budget carrier.

Ng was part of Cathay’s acquisition and transition team integrating HK Express following its HK$4.93 billion (US$628.46 million) takeover.

Mandy Ng, who steps in as CEO of budget carrier HK Express, has worked with Cathay Pacific for 17 years. Photo: Handout

“Ensuring continuity in HK Express’ business direction is of paramount importance,” said Lam in a statement.

“[Mandy] has played a key role in ensuring the smooth transition for the airline and the Cathay Pacific Group. Mandy and I will work closely together to lead HK Express into an exciting future for our people and our customers,” added Lam.

Cathay Pacific director to take top job at HK Express

Lam reiterated Cathay Pacific’s commitment to keeping HK Express a low-cost airline.

Ng moves across from her previous role as general manager for business development at Swire Pacific, which she has held since July 2018. She joined the group as a management trainee in 1999 and has held a variety of positions involving planning, revenue and sales in Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia.

Cathay Pacific intends keeping HK Express, which it recently acquired, a budget airline. Photo: Reuters

Among Ng’s key roles was spending two years, from 2014 to 2016, as the manager for airline planning across the group, handling and managing the scheduling and aircraft deployment for 200 passenger and cargo aircraft.

Last year, the International Air Transport Association, which represents the interests of airlines, said that the percentage of female CEOs in airlines stood at 3 per cent, compared with 12 per cent in other industries.

Low-cost carrier overtakes combined might of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon on non-stop flights to Japan

In Asia, it is unclear how many female CEOs there are. However, Asia budget airline AirAsia Group’s Aireen Omar is a trailblazer, having earlier led AirAsia Malaysia from 2012 to 2018. Omar on Monday was appointed AirAsia Group president for its corporate venture capital arm RedBeat Ventures. Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet Air is led by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thai.

Other female CEOs include in Europe, Anne Rigail, who holds the top job at Air France, and its sister budget airline Transavia France is led by Nathalie Stubler. In neighbouring Belgium, Brussels Airlines is led by Christina Foerster and Spain’s Air Europa is overseen by Maria José Hidalgo Gutierrez.

In the Americas, Christine Deister is CEO for US regional carrier Air Wisconsin. Meanwhile JetBlue Airways appointed Joanna Geraghty in May last year as president and chief operating officer, the number two airline official, placing her as the highest ranking female executive for a major US airline.

This article HK Express gets first female CEO as Mandy Ng steps into the hot seat at Hong Kong budget airline first appeared on South China Morning Post

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