Retiring Cathay Dragon chief executive Algernon Yau Ying-wah is taking the helm of the new Greater Bay Airlines.
Yau, 62, starts his new role on Monday, an internal memo from tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau, who is launching the new airline, shows.
Yau formally retires from Cathay Group this week after 38 years.
In the memo, Wong asked his staff to welcome Yau and support him. But, when asked by reporters yesterday, Wong refused to comment on Yau's appointment.
In October, Cathay Group announced that Cathay Dragon would be shut down under a restructuring plan spurred by the pandemic.
Cathay Dragon handed over its air transport license to the authorities in November and it has since been revoked.
It is understood that Cathay later offered Yau a position as a consultant, but he turned it down.
Rebecca Sy On-na, former chairwoman of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants' Association, said she felt "betrayed" after hearing of Yau's appointment.
"[The executives] can find themselves a way out after they shut down the airline. They are not as desperate as the staff," she said.
Sy said she has not heard of any of her former colleagues heading over to the new airline.
It is understood that the appointment of Yau, who is experienced in the commercial aviation field, will help make Greater Bay Airlines more competitive as it is trying to obtain an air operator's certificate and air transport license.
The new airline is recruiting staff, including former pilot training staff from Cathay Dragon, as it will deploy the Boeing 737 aircraft, with which Hong Kong pilots are not familiar.
Earlier, Wong said the airline is also recruiting managers, crew members and maintenance workers. He says the workforce can be expanded to between 2,500 and 3,000 within five years.
Wong also expects the new airline to operate five aircraft on its launch and expand the fleet to 30 by 2025.
Apart from the Greater Bay Airlines, Wong also owns the Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines, which operates more than 20 Boeing 737 aircraft.
Meanwhile, Cathy Pacific appointed Song Zhiyong as deputy chairman, effective immediately. He replaces Cai Jianjiang, who has resigned as non-executive director and deputy chairman.
Air China, the major shareholder of Cathy Pacific, said the 55-year-old graduated from the First Flying Academy of China Air Force with a bachelor's degree in aviation and is a senior pilot.