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Cathay Pacific will end its non-stop Cairns-Hong Kong flights from October 2019, leaving Brisbane as the airline's sole Queensland port.
A spokesman for Cathay Pacific confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the route, which has been in operation since 1993, is being “suspended… for commercial reasons."
The last Hong Kong-Cairns flight is scheduled for October 26, with the final Cairns-Hong Kong leg on October 27, although the airline indicated those dates are yet to be finalised.
“The operation and commercial landscape has changed, but we will keep a close eye on the opportunity of resuming service to Cairns on our own aircraft,” Cathay Pacific’s spokesperson added.
Cathay currently offers four non-stop return flights each week between Cairns and Hong Kong. Some Cairns services also extended to Brisbane to collect extra passengers – helping to fill the aircraft – running as Brisbane-Cairns-Hong Kong and vice versa during off-peak periods when passenger demand from both cities is lower.
Pulling the plug on all Cairns flights has implications for Qantas codeshare passengers, given the Flying Kangaroo only began codesharing on Cathay Pacific’s Cairns flights from October 2018.
As that codeshare agreement doesn’t cover Cathay’s Brisbane-Hong Kong flights, affected Cairns-based travellers are expected to be rerouted via Brisbane aboard Qantas, with the one-stop journey replacing their non-stop itinerary.
Passengers who booked directly with Cathay Pacific should contact Cathay Pacific to arrange alternative flights, which will likely include a domestic Qantas flight from Cairns to Brisbane, and a Cathay flight from Brisbane to Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific’s spokesperson reiterated that “Cairns will continue to be served through our codeshare partner Qantas,” as the airline codeshares on Qantas domestic flights from Cairns to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The Cairns cancellations will, however, mean that all Cathay Pacific departures from Brisbane will run as non-stop flights, rather than some overnight journeys from Hong Kong making an early call into Cairns as the sun is coming up, so that passengers can enjoy a bit more uninterrupted sleep before reaching Brisbane.
The fate of the Reef Lounge at Cairns Airport – the only lounge in the terminal’s international departures area, which is owned and operated by Cathay Pacific and also shared with passengers of other airlines and programs like Priority Pass – is not yet known.
Cathay's move follows the withdrawal of Virgin Australia partner Hong Kong Airlines from the Cairns-Hong Kong route in October 2018, leaving Cairns without any non-stop flights to Hong Kong.