Cathay Pacific wants more flights to Australia

Cathay Pacific wants more flights to Australia

Cathay Pacific wants to boost the number of flights between Australia and Hong Kong ahead of an expected increase in demand for travel between the two countries.

The airline has already reached a Government-imposed limit of 70 flights per week out of Australia, covering most capital cities as well as Cairns, and is now reliant on a relaxation of that cap before adding more services.

Cathay Pacific sees flights to London and Europe via Hong Kong as major drawcards for Australian travellers, along with shorter hops flights into China on Cathay and its sister Dragonair.

During a speech today at Sydney's Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, Cathay's Chief Operating Officer Ivan Chu quoted the old Chinese proverb of "digging a well before you are thirsty."

"When the market grows we want to have the capacity to allow us to grow" he said.

Chu later told Fairfax aviation reporter Matt O'Sullivan that the Australian and Hong Kong governments would soon begin talks about bilateral air rights.

"At the end of the day the governments should look after the public interest, and expansion will provide more public interest. If there is more capacity, we will take advantage of that."

However, Cathay will find itself going up against Jetstar Hong Kong, which is expected to launch by year's end with flights from Hong Kong to China.

The low-cost carrier is a joint venture between Qantas, China Eastern Airlines and the investment firm Shun Tak Holdings, led by Hong Kong business magnate and multibillionaire Stanley Ho.

Cathay's predicament is that all its Australian flights are served by Airbus A330 jets with some 242 seats spread over business class, premium economy and economy cabins.

With the airline in the final stage of retiring its older and less fuel-efficient Boeing 747s, increasing Australian capacity without adding more flights would require moving selected flights to its Boeing 777-300ER flagships – a move that would deliver a 40% increase to 340 passengers in the same three-class version, or 275 passengers on the four-class configuration boasting Cathay's refreshed first class.

The alternative is to wait until 2016, when Cathay will begin flying the first of its new Airbus A350-900 jets with an estimated 314 seats.

But by 2016, according to Chu, Cathay Pacific may already be thirsty for more capacity.

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David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

17 comments

  • 180mis

    180mis

    8 Aug, 2013 08:55 pm

    Does Cathay have any A380's scheduled to enter their fleet? I was hoping Cathay would introduce First Class for the SYD-HKG leg

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  • David Flynn

    David

    8 Aug, 2013 09:00 pm

    No, although there's been speculation that Cathay would this year place an order for either the Airbus A380 or Boeing's 747-8I. But yeah, I'd like to see CX F on primary routes like SYD-HKG and MEL-HKG!

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  • ColinW

    ColinW

    16 Jul, 2015 12:50 pm

    Yes - a smattering of first class seats would be a boon ex Australia. Perhaps the 2 rows giving 8 seats per flight.

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  • Skipp

    Skipp

    8 Aug, 2013 10:32 pm

    What is stopping them introducing a 4-class version of the B777-300ER? It would increase capacity to 275 seats (13.5%), which includes a modest increase in all existing classes, as well as the introduction of an exclusive 6 seat first cabin. This option could be accomplished significantly sooner than 2016, whilst still using new fuel efficient aircraft.

    Seems rather straight forward to me.

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  • Mal

    Mal

    8 Aug, 2013 11:45 pm

    There's nothing stopping them from bringing down the 4-class 777 but I think the challenges would be

    1. They want these 'flagship' planes for 'flagship' routes, their biggest high-yielding long-distance ones like to London, Paris and North America (LAX, NY, Vancouver and there's another US route being announced next week).

    2. CX is refreshing F and those hero routes above would also be first to get the new product, which means that SYD and MEL (which would be logical F targets for CX) would have loaded with old F class. That doesn't compete with Qantas F and I think it would be a real disappointment if CX came out and said "We're bringing First Class to Australia" only to deliver a six year old product that's a generation behind.

    3. As you point out it's barely 30 seats more than the A330, which is not much of a jump if you are looking to boost capacity and already have 3-4 flights a day in your primary cities (SYD and MEL). You also want to look at the cabin sizes: sure there are 6 potentially high-yielding F seats and 14 more J seats, but there's only 7 more economy seats (from the A330's 175 to the B777's 182 in a 4-class config). I think it'd be hard to balance the unknown factor of offering 6 last-gen F seats against a mere 7 extra Y seats, surely in tight times Y is where the demand is? The 3-class B777 has 268 Y seats, that's almost 100 more than the A330, I think that would be a safer bet for CX in the current climate than trying to sell 6 last-gen F seats.

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  • Skipp

    Skipp

    9 Aug, 2013 07:49 am

    Hi Mal. You may be likely correct in regards to what cabin class they really want to increase capacity on. Let's say just one of the the four return SY - HK services was on a B777-300 (3-class version) instead of the A330, that would only increase the daily capacity by about 10%. A nice incremental increase for every B777-300 service that replaces the multiple A330 services. Certainly a valid option.

    In relation to the first class product, CX's may be 6 years old but it's the same core product on every aircraft (i.e. consistancy). Qantas' first class product is one year behind at 5 years old on their flagship A380, which flies 4 days per week. The first product  that Qantas pedal for the other three days is more than a decade old, and inferior to the new business seats. Looking into the future, a key difference between the two airlines is that CX's have started refreshing there first product & will be due for completion in about 12 months. Qantas, for now, plan no changes to their first product until at least 2016!

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  • nix584

    nix584

    9 Aug, 2013 09:41 am

    The new US route (as per the CX website booking engine) is EWR.

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  • Patrick Donnolley

    parick

    8 Aug, 2013 10:52 pm

    Hmm if there is more slots open between Hk and Aus it would put more presssure on Qantas. Plus Virgin might consider cashing in on that route.

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  • Al Glidden

    AlG

    9 Aug, 2013 12:02 am

    I'd love to see Virgin fly to Hong Kong, I do all my domestic flying with VA now and am travelling quite a bit to Singapore and HK, Singapore works for me on SQ but it'd be good to earn VA points & status credits on the SYD-HKG trips. It'd be good if VA could use the VS Clubhouse lounge at HKG but I think for Sydney we'I'd be stuck paying my way into the crappy Air NZ Koru lounge :(

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  • KG

    KG

    9 Aug, 2013 09:25 am

    AI: TO HKG you could book VS and earn points and sc on VA Velocity.

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  • kash

    kash

    9 Aug, 2013 07:17 am

    Virign can already fly to Hong Kong!!!!!- Australian carriers have heaps of spare slots

    however don't bet on that service lasting for too long or Virgin ever gaining the dominant position on any of the routes not to mention be able to make a profit

    I wish QF would just get over it and cooperate with CX!!!!!!!!  TO China

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  • Patrick Donnolley

    parick

    9 Aug, 2013 11:09 am

    Yeah but Borghetti has been focused on building up alliances with other airlines, while Virgin makes itself known on the domestic corperate travel market. While alliances are good, i still think Virgin needs a bit more of a physical presence to make itself more of a threat to Qantas. Also the original plan was when Virgin was still known as Virgin Blue and V Australia, was that those flights to Hong Kong would originate in Brisbane (good for my convienince).  I do not know what happened but if you time it right with the Virgin Atlantic flights to and from Heathrow it would allow passengers to transfer flights in HK and create a semi direct route between the UK and QLD.

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  • Patrick Donnolley

    parick

    9 Aug, 2013 11:10 am

     Just saying.

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  • Alvin Tse

    074061

    13 Sep, 2013 10:01 pm

    With its nice new FB2s, I would want Cathay to fly to Darwin, Gold Coast and Hobart as well, but :( not my choice.

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  • ColinW

    ColinW

    16 Jul, 2015 01:08 pm

    Don't forget the YYZ service - 10 flights per week.

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  • wendy fraser

    wenzzzz

    8 Jan, 2016 09:22 pm

    Just wondering if the new 350-900 be flying PER-HKG??

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  • wendy fraser

    wenzzzz

    8 Jan, 2016 09:25 pm

    Will the   350-900  be doing the HKG-LAX  sector??????

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20 Jul, 2019 07:25 am

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