Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is the largest airline and flag carrier of Hong Kong. Based at Hong Kong International Airport, the airline's operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 120 destinations worldwide.
Cathay Pacific is one of only six airlines worldwide to carry a five-star rating from Skytrax. Cathay was named "Airline of the Year" in 2003 and 2005 by Skytrax and in 2006 by Air Transport World and OAG. The airline has been voted the second best airline in the world by Skytrax for 2008. Cathay Pacific is accredited by the IATA with the IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) for safety practices. It is also a member of the Oneworld alliance. The company is managed by the Swire Group.
According to legend, the airline was conceived by Farrell and some foreign correspondents at the bar of the Manila Hotel. On Cathay Pacific's maiden voyage, Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow flew from Hong Kong to Manila, and later on to Shanghai. They had a single Douglas DC-3, nicknamed Betsy. The airline initially flew routes between Hong Kong, Sydney, Manila, Singapore, Shanghai, and Canton, while scheduled service was limited to Bangkok, Manila, and Singapore only.
In 1948 Butterfield & Swire bought 45% of Cathay Pacific, with Australian National Airways taking 35% and Farrell and de Kantzow taking 10% each. The new company began operations on 1 July 1948 and was registered as Cathay Pacific Airways (1948) Ltd on 18 October 1948. Swire later acquired 52% of Cathay Pacific and today the airline is still 40% owned by the Swire Group through Swire Pacific.
The airline prospered into the 1960s, buying rival Hong Kong Airways in 1959, carrying its one-millionth passenger in 1964, recording double digit growth from 1962 to 1967, acquiring its first jet engined aircraft (Convair 880), and beginning international routes to airports in Japan. In the 1970s, Cathay Pacific installed a computerised reservation system and flight simulators. In 1979, Cathay Pacific acquired its first Boeing 747 and applied for traffic rights to begin flying to London. Expansion continued into the 1980s, when an industry-wide boom encouraged route growth to many European and North American centres. In 1986, Cathay Pacific went public.
In January 1990, Cathay Pacific and its parent company, Swire Pacific, acquired a significant shareholding in Dragonair, and a 60% stake in cargo airline Air Hong Kong. During the early 1990s, Cathay Pacific launched a programme to upgrade passenger service. Also, the green and white striped livery was replaced with the current "brushstroke" livery. Cathay Pacific began a US$9 billion fleet replacement program during the mid-1990s that resulted with Cathay Pacific having one of the youngest airline fleets in the world. In 1996, CITIC bought a 25% stake in Cathay Pacific while the Swire Group holding was reduced to 44% as two other Chinese companies, CNAC and CTS also bought substantial holdings.
In 1997, administration of Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to the People's Republic of China. Most of Cathay Pacific's aircraft were registered in Hong Kong and bore a registration beginning with "VR". Under the terms of an agreement within the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG), registration was changed by December, 1997 to the prefix "B", which is used by the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Cathay Pacific aircraft formerly carried a painted Union Jack on the tail but these were removed several years before the 1997 takeover.
In September 1998, Cathay Pacific became a founding member of the Oneworld Alliance. In 1999, they completed their new headquarters, named Cathay City, which is located at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific was hurt by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, but recorded a record HK$5 billion profit in 2000.
Cathay Pacific fired 49 of its 1,500 pilots on July 9, 2001; hence, they are known as "the 49ers" (though total dismissals and downgrades subsequent totalled 62). About half of the fired pilots were captains, or 5 percent of the total pilot group. But of the 21 officers of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA), 9 were fired, including four of the seven union negotiators.
"The firing was pure intimidation, a union-bust straight up, designed to be random enough to put the fear in all pilots that they might be next, no reason given," says Captain Nigel Demery, president of the HKAOA (and also Hong Kong-ALPA, the IFALPA affiliate of all Hong Kong based flight crew members.)
A later head of the HKAOA, Captain Murray Gardner, is said to have favoured a more soft-line approach to dealing with management and indeed workplace relations between the two groups have been largely conciliatory since 2002.
Cathay offered the 49 pilots it sacked in 2001 the chance to reapply for pilot positions with its cargo division, guaranteeing such applicants first interviews, subject to passing psychometric testing. 19 former employees applied and 12 were offered jobs.
On 9 June 2006, Cathay Pacific underwent a shareholding realignment under which Dragonair became wholly owned by Cathay Pacific but continued to operate under its own brand. Air China, and its subsidiary, CNAC Limited, acquired a 17.5% stake in Cathay Pacific, and Cathay Pacific doubled its shareholding in Air China to 20%. CITIC reduced its shareholding to 17.5%, and Swire reduced its shareholding to 40%.
To celebrate the airline's 60th anniversary in 2006 a year of road shows named the "Cathay Pacific 60th Anniversary Skyshow" was held where the public could see the developments of the airline, play games, meet some of the airline's staff, and view vintage uniforms. Cathay Pacific also introduced anniversary merchandise and in-flight meals served by famous restaurants in Hong Kong in collaboration with the celebrations. In 2007 Cathay Pacific and Dragonair carried more than 23 million passengers.
In June 2008, Cathay Pacific agreed to pay a portion of $504 million in fines levied by the U.S. Justice Department related to cargo price fixing.
In October 2008, the average age of the Cathay Pacific fleet was 10.9 years.
|Airbus A330-300||32 |
|New 2-class Interior |
|Fitted with either Regional Business Class or First, Long Haul Business Class |
Current A330s with First Class will be reconfigured as 2-class with new cabin interiors.
Largest operator of the A330.
|Airbus A340-300||15||New 2-class Interior |
|Fitted with either Long Haul Business Class or First, Long Haul Business Class |
All A340s will be reconfigured as 2-class with new cabin interiors
|Airbus A340-600||1||3-class |
|Leases expiring; the remaining A340-600 will leave the fleet by 15 October 2008|
|Boeing 747-400||23||New Interior |
|Fitted with First and Long Haul Business Class |
All B747s will be reconfigured as 3-class with new cabin interiors
|Boeing 777-200||5||336 (45/291)||Fitted with Regional Business Class|
|Boeing 777-300||12||385 (59/326)||Fitted with Regional Business Class|
|Boeing 777-300ER||9 |
|301 (6/57/238)||Factory-installed as 3-class with new cabin interior.|
On 1 December 2005, Cathay Pacific announced an order for 16 777-300ER aircraft (4 on lease from ILFC) to be delivered between September 2007 and July 2010, plus options on 20 more of the type, 2 of which were converted to orders on 1 June 2006. Cathay Pacific also ordered 3 more A330-300 the same day, with the delivery of the aircraft scheduled for 2008. Cathay Pacific may reach a decision regarding the issue of how the airline's future high-capacity long-haul requirements are to be fulfilled by ordering either the Airbus A380-800/-900, Airbus A350, Boeing 787 or the Boeing 747-8. However, Cathay Pacific recently stated that they have no plans to order Airbus A380 nor Boeing 787 soon.
On 29 August 2006, Cathay Pacific took delivery of its 100th aircraft, an Airbus A330-300 with the registration B-LAD. For the aircraft acceptance ceremony in Toulouse, the aircraft was painted in a 60th anniversary livery with a 60th anniversary sticker behind the second doors (2L and 2R) and the letters '100th aircraft' at the rear of the aircraft. The aircraft was named "Progress Hong Kong", a name that was chosen from a competition by the staff.
On 7 August 2007, Cathay Pacific Airways announced that it had placed an order for five more wide-body Boeing 777-300ER “Extended Range” aircraft for a total price of about US$11 billion, increasing its commitment to a total of 23 of the aircraft type. These five additional Boeing 777-300ERs will be purchased directly from the Boeing Company and will be delivered in 2011.
On 8 November 2007, Cathay Pacific announced that it had placed an order for 7 additional 777-300ERs and 10 747-8F freighters with Boeing. The airline also took 14 options for the new freighter at that time. This order, if all options are exercised, would make Cathay Pacific the largest operator of 777-300ERs in Asia and largest operator of 747-8Fs in the world. The order has a listed price of $5.2 billion US.
On 6 December 2007, Cathay Pacific placed a firm order for 8 more Airbus A330-300 aircraft valued at approximately US$1.7 billion at list prices. Together with the commitment for 17 long-haul passenger aircraft and freighters announced the previous month, the new aircraft will take the Cathay Pacific Group's fleet size to 200 by 2012. From that 200 aircraft, Cathay Pacific will operate 150 by itself, and the rest will be used by Cathay Pacific subsidiaries.
On 30 January 2008, the chief Boeing 777 pilot for Cathay Pacific, Captain Ian Wilkinson, performed a low-level flypast, reportedly with permission of the control tower, but without permission from the airline, at the Boeing Everett Factory when taking delivery of a new Boeing 777-300ER. Captain Wilkinson was dismissed for his actions. No injuries or further incident was caused.
|Boeing 747-200F||5||2 B747-200F (B-HVY/B-HME) are retired from Cathay Pacific's freighter fleet|
|Boeing 747-400ERF||2 |
|Boeing 747-8F||(10 orders)|
Since its conception in 1946, Cathay Pacific had operated many types of aircraft. The first two Cathay Pacific aircraft were two World War II surplus Douglas DC-3s named Betsy and Niki. Betsy (VR-HDB), which is the first aircraft for Cathay Pacific, is now a permanent exhibit in the Hong Kong Science Museum. Niki (VR-HDA) was lost, but a similar DC-3 has been purchased by Cathay Pacific. It was renovated and repainted by CX Engineering and the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company and it now wears the original Cathay Pacific colour scheme. This aircraft received "Niki"s' old VR-HDA registration and is now on public view in the car park outside the Flight Training Centre of Cathay City.
Other aircraft that have been in service with Cathay Pacific are:
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cathay Pacific was the largest operator of the Lockheed TriStar outside the United States.
Food and beverages served on flights leaving Hong Kong are provided by Cathay Pacific Catering Services in facilities in Hong Kong. CLS Catering Services Limited is a joint venture with LSG Sky Chefs and offers inflight catering from airports in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. Special meals can also be ordered 24 hours before departure.
Since the early 1990s, all seats in all classes have been equipped with Personal TVs (PTVs) featuring Cathay's in-flight entertainment system, StudioCX. There are two versions of Studio CX:
Ten interactive games are provided in all classes for flights on which AVOD is offered.
AVOD is available in all First and Business Class cabins on Boeing B747-400s, Boeing B777-300ERs, Airbus A340s (both -300s and -600s) and A330-300s fitted in the long-haul 2- or 3-class configurations. Passengers travelling in the new Economy Class will also have AVOD.
Panasonic's "eX2" system is being installed on aircraft with the new seat configuration, and is available on selected A330-300s, B747-400s and all B777-300ERs, and will eventually be provided on all Cathay passenger aircraft.
The Marco Polo Club divides members into four tiers based on past travel. Higher tiered members are provided with increased travel benefits such as upgrades, additional baggage allowance, priority flight booking and lounge access. 50 USD is mandatory in registering as a Marco Polo Club Member. There are four tiers in the Marco Polo Club.
Although this is the lowest tier it still gives the member more benefits than a non-member Economy Class passenger. So for example Green Tier members can check in at designated Marco Polo check-in counters, which include the Business Class counters at selected airports. They are also given priority boarding. However, lounge access is not part of this tier.
Silver Tier is achieved when the member earns 30,000 club miles or 20 sectors within a year. The Marco Polo Silver Tier is in many ways much more generous than other silver cards provided by most airlines. For example a Silver Card member has guaranteed 10kg extra baggage allowance, guaranteed Business Class check-in (throughout the CX network) and guaranteed Business Class lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific. Members also receive a Oneworld "Ruby" status, which enables the member to check-in at the Business Class counter when they are flying any airline that is part of the Oneworld Alliance.
With this tier, the member is entitled to a 15kg extra baggage allowance and guaranteed economy class seats (providing booking is made within 72 hours). Members also receive One World "Sapphire" status which allows them to access any Business Class lounge as long as they are flying with the Oneworld Alliance. To qualify and renew their membership, Gold Tier members must earn 60,000 miles or 40 sectors within a period of one year. Members may also bring in one guest to the lounge.
Asia Miles is a more traditional travel rewards programme in which "miles" are accumulated by flying on Cathay Pacific or a partner airline. Miles can also be earned by spending through a number of hotels, credit card companies, car rental agencies, telecommunication companies and other non-airline channels. These miles can then be redeemed for flights or other products and services. Joining is free.
It should be noted that club miles, unlike Asia Miles, can only be earned when a member flies in an eligible subclasss with CX, KA or any other member of the Oneworld Alliance. Club miles may not be purchased.
The subclasses (on Economy Class) on CX and KA that are eligible are as follows: Y, B, H, K, L, M, V
Subclasses Y, B, H, and K are the only subclasses that are eligible for an upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class (using Asia Miles).
Cathay Pacific has codeshare agreements with the following airlines as of June 2007: