Sydney:Compass Group Plc. chief executive officer (CEO) Richard Cousins and four members of his family were killed on Sunday when their chartered sightseeing flight crashed north of Sydney.

The seaplane plunged into the Hawkesbury river near Jerusalem Bay shortly after 3pm, killing all six people on board, including the pilot, police said in a statement.

Dominic Blakemore, formerly the company’s chief operating officer for Europe, will succeed him effective from Monday, Compass said in an emailed statement. Cousins was due to step down as CEO of the world’s largest caterer on 31 March. The stock has rallied about 500% during his more than 11 years at the helm.

“Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies," Paul Walsh, chairman of the UK-based catering company, said in a statement. “We are deeply shocked and saddened."

Police are working with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to determine the cause of the crash. Sydney Seaplanes, which runs the flights, said it suspended operations until further notice, local media reported.

Cousins, 58, died along with sons William, 25, and Edward, 23, his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11-year-old daughter, Heather, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney reported. The 44-year-old pilot, Gareth Morgan, was also killed.

Tourists typically charter seaplanes for a 20-minute flight from Sydney to dine at an exclusive restaurant on the river and to take in views of iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and harbour bridge. Bloomberg

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