Cathay Pacific brings Boeing 777-300ER onto Sydney-Hong Kong

By David Flynn, August 4 2014
Cathay Pacific brings Boeing 777-300ER onto Sydney-Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific will upgrade one of its daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong to a Boeing 777-300ER as the airline looks to increase the number of passengers it can book onto the popular route.

All of Cathay's four flights on the Sydney-Hong Kong route – indeed, all of the airline's services into and out of Australia – rely on Airbus A330 jets which can carry 242 travellers across business premium economy and economy.

The Boeing 777-300ER represents a 40% boost in bums on seats, adding one hundred extra seats to the daily count.

93 of those are found in the economy cabin compared to one more for business class and four in premium economy.

Cathay will roster the Boeing 777-300ER onto its CX138/139 service, initially running three days each week from December 3rd (Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, with the other days remaining on an Airbus A330) but stepping up every day as of February 1st, 2015.

CX138/139 is popular overnight flight leaving Sydney at 10.20pm to reach Hong Kong at 5am. The return leg is Cathay's only daytime flight between the two cities, departing Hong Kong at 8.50am to arrive in Sydney at 9pm.

"We’ve seen very high passenger numbers throughout Australia and on our Sydney flights in particular this year and are therefore responding to the very solid demand by increasing capacity on a key flight" said Nelson Chin, Cathay Pacific's Regional General Manager for South West Pacific.

CX hits the ceiling

Cathay Pacific has been seeking to increase the number of flights between Australia and Hong Kong, having already reached the Australian Government-imposed cap of 70 flights per week out of Australia.

Speaking at Sydney's Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in August 2013, Cathay's then-COO and now CEO Ivan Chu cited 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" Chu said.

Read: Cathay Pacific wants more flights to Australia

However, with no extra flights seemingly on the agenda, the airline has opted to roll out the flagship of its international fleet.

Virgin Atlantic axed its Sydney-Hong Kong service on May 5 this year, claiming the route was "no longer considered profitable" due to "increasing costs and a challenging economic environment."

Cathay's sole competitor on the route is now Qantas, which will downgrade its daily flights from an Airbus A380 to a Boeing 747-400 from September 29, although the superjumbo will be rostered onto the route during peak periods such as summer holidays and Chinese New Year.

Last week saw Cathay Pacific launch a campaign to woo Australian travellers – which by default means members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme – with a double serve of its Asia Miles on flights between Australia and Hong Kong.

Read: Cathay Pacific entices Aussies to jump ship from Qantas Frequent Flyer

No Cathay Pacific lounge for Sydney

However, the airline has poured cold water on notions that it might open its own lounge at Sydney Airport.

"Sydney is definitely very high up in what we call our 'high value port analysis' - which sounds rather grand but it's (a rating) based on frequency, front-end traffic, Marco Polo Club members etc" Toby Smith, Cathay Pacific's General Manager Product, told Australian Business Traveller.

"But we also look at what else is at the airport, and clearly Qantas as a Oneworld partner has two great lounges, they do a great job, so we have no plans at the moment."


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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 41

Since someone will inevitably ask, it is the three class version (77G) that CX are planning on using - still no F.

Also although the 77G has 40 J seats compared to the 33G's 39, the uplift in J seats is actually two as the 33G currently has 12K blocked for crew rest. The 77G comes with bunks for the flight deck so CX will be able to sell the additional J seat.

"Cathay Pacific has been seeking to increase the number of flights between Australia and Hong Kong, having already reached the Australian Government-imposed cap of 70 flights per week out of Australia."

I am not a student of economic history. Could someone please explain to me the logic and basis of protectionism in this modern age?

As a child of globalisation the idea of protectionism is foreign and abhorrent to me.

17 Feb 2012

Total posts 121

I don't see why we should allow Cathay to fly more into Australia - particularly since they have been so against QF and their Jetstar start up in HK.  Countries that indulge in that type of protectionism - (including Canada) shouldn't get unfetted access to our market. 


28 Sep 2012

Total posts 9

If there is more consumer demand for flights and QF (for whatever reason) don't want to offer supply, then all you are doing by handcuffing CX is hitting Aussie consumers. Strong demand and insuffucient capacity = higher fares.  Also, if JQ management structure met HKG's law (i.e. strategic control in HKG not Melbourne), then JQ could have started months ago.

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 230

Sweet. I look forward to control of Cathay moving to Australia to even things up. Then let her rip.

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 194

Air traffic rights are usually give-and-take. So for HKG carriers to get more rights, the AU government would then try to get something for AU carriers.

Since AU carriers have plenty of capacity AU-HKG then HKG doesn't have much to bargain with.Unless QF if pushing its connections in Canberra to use JQ HK as a way of CX getting more AU flights..

whipper & madge,

I get where you are coming from. But it seems petty and archaic for countries to have such a mindset.

Then again we live in a world where the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) still exist *sigh*.....

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1251

Does CX actually need extra slots into Australia or do they just need to use bigger planes first?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2209

It's definitely petty and archaic, but this is international relations at its very best.

Also, CX doesn't actually have anything much bigger.


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 596

Traffic rights are usually on a per seat basis between city pairs. Frequency and aircraft size do some into it, but are secondary considerations.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1251

Not when it comes to Australia - determined by number of frequencies to SYD, BNE, MEL & PER. No restrictions on other ports.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jan 2013

Total posts 55

Good news ! I might have to jump ship as Qantas are down grading from the A380 to 747.....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2013

Total posts 467


You should.CX is one of the worlds great airlines and you enjoy.Qantas is no longer a great airline not that it ever was but the carrier is no longer relevent in any market other than the US where they remain a player against poor non existant competition.I aplaud CX for looking to ramp up flights at a time while Qantas have no aircraft an can not make money when other can..Get on it CX.And while the spirit Qantas was protected for 50 plus years and we all suffered..Please Federal goverment let SQ fly SYD/Lax and give us real service across the Pacific.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 457

Excellent News but Cathay Pacific isn't an option for me.I belong to Virgin Australia's Velocity Program and ever since VS pulled out of Sydney my only option and I am flying from Adelaide should I wish to go to Hong Kong is now Singapore Airlines via Singapore.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2209

Well, you could always join their program.

04 Aug 2014

Total posts 35

I think CX should deploy 77H instead of 77G on this flight. The demand for premium cabin on this flight is huge because it's the only overnight flight into HKG. 

I fly CX139 a lot and it is getting ridiculously hard to get a seat in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2209

I would argue that they should fly 77H with F on both CX138/139 and CX161/162 to provide ideal day and night flight each way with four-class service.

04 Aug 2014

Total posts 35

Yes I think they should do that, especially when Qantas has just removed first class out of the route.  

6 First seats per flight shouldn't be too hard for cathay to operate since they have so many people connecting from europe and especially China, where I believe whole lots of people can afford to buy a first class ticket..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Aug 2014

Total posts 3

adding one hundred extra seats to the daily count.

93 of those are found in the economy cabin compared to one more for business class and four in premium economy


not 100.  Somebody didn't do their maths

What a pity Cathay doesn't send their 4-classed 777. As the demand will grow stronger if they send their first class to Sydney. But then won't be fair on Melbourne and Brisbane and other cities because they will only have business class as the highest class.

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