Richard Cousins, CEO of World’s Biggest Catering Company, Killed in Plane Crash Near Sydney

Richard Cousins was chief executive of Compass Group, which employs more than 550,000 people worldwide, for more than 11 years.
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The chief executive of the world’s biggest catering company, which is also one of Britain’s biggest businesses, died on Sunday in a plane crash near Sydney, the Australian police said.

Richard Cousins, the chief executive of Compass Group, was among the six people killed when a seaplane went down off Jerusalem Bay, just north of Sydney, according to a statement from the New South Wales police. Police representatives confirmed that those who died were Mr. Cousins, his two sons, his fiancée, her daughter and the pilot of the plane. The cause of the crash was being investigated.

Mr. Cousins, 58, led Compass for more than 11 years. The company employs more than 550,000 people worldwide, providing food for a wide range of organizations including Costco, Qualcomm, the University of Houston and the stadium that houses the Utah Jazz basketball team.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news,” Paul Walsh, the company’s chairman, said in a statement. “It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years. Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”

Police said they were working with officials from Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau, which investigates transport accidents in the country. The Reuters news agency said that a preliminary report was expected within 30 days, but that it could take as long as a year to find out what had caused the crash.

The flight was part of a trip conducted by Sydney Seaplanes, which has five aircraft transporting passengers on scenic trips above the Australian city, often to waterfront restaurants. The pilot, Gareth Morgan, had more than 10,000 hours of flight experience, the vast majority of which was on seaplanes, Aaron Shaw, the company’s managing director, said in a statement.

Sydney Seaplanes, which said it had not had any safety incidents since it started operating in 2005, suspended all its operations until further notice.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Prashant S. Rao