As Cathay Pacific gears up to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, the airline will capitalise on its growth in the Australian market and the impact of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement on business travel into China.
“There are a lot of business opportunities between Australia and China, especially with the free trade agreement” observes Nelson Chin, Cathay Pacific's Regional General Manager for South West Pacific.
Cathay Pacific and its regional offshoot Dragonair fly to some 20 destinations on the Chinese mainland, and Chin reports “we’ve seen exponential growth on Dragonair into secondary cities” which are regional manufacturing and commercial hubs.
“We have three flights a day already, but given that Melbourne Airport has is no curfew, there is still room that you can fit another flight in.”
"As to which routes might take up more Boeing 777s, surely the two biggest cities are high on the priority list" Chin allows.
"That's not to say we're not also considering the likes of Brisbane or Perth, which are also on the radar. We do take a longer-term look into these things, to make the best use of our resources."
A350s for Australia, eventually
Australia will eventually be blanketed by Cathay Pacific’s new Airbus A350s, Chin says. “The idea is that within the next 3-4 years, all the A330s would be switched over to A350s, so that would be the new minimum capacity that we’d have on any flight into Australia.”
The first of the next-gen jetliners in CX strip is expected to take wing in March and will feature an updated business class along with all-new premium economy and economy seats.
London’s Gatwick Airport has already been confirmed as an A350 route starting September 2nd, giving Cathay Pacific six flights into London alongside Heathrow’s current five daily services.
For Aussie travellers flying onwards from Hong Kong, London is already Cathay’s “number one destination in terms of traditional traffic” says Chin, so Gatwick provides an additional element of choice.
“It’s similar to what we have in New York, Tokyo and Shanghai, flying to two different airports which serve different geographical and passenger needs, and you don’t have to come and go via the same airport if you have meetings in different parts of the city.”
New York popular
New York is another city where Chin recounts “phenomenal growth” out of Australia.
“In Sydney and Melbourne there are many options to get to the USA, but from Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide we often are the quickest way to the USA, especially to the east coast – not just New York but also Boston and Chicago,” Chin explains.
One advantage of heading to New York via Hong Kong is there’s no need to recheck your bags or change terminals at LAX.
“Going through immigration is not the most pleasant experience anywhere in the world, especially with the kind of strict security measures we have today, so going via Hong Kong is quite seamless,” Chin says.
“You can have a good break at Hong Kong, whether you stay for a few days or just a few hours in one of our lounges, and we also have first class for that longer leg between Hong Kong and the US east coast.”
More luxe lounges on the way
Hong Kong will also see the opening of a new Cathay Pacific flagship lounge with The Pier Business Class emerging from an extensive make-over in the second half of the year.
Like its highly-regarded sibling The Pier First Class (below), the business class lounge is being shaped by Ilse Crawford’s London-based design team Studioilse.
At around 3,000 square metres, the new lounge will include a massive noodle bar and drinks bar, an Asian teahouse room and a dedication relaxation area which Crawford describes as a more “democratic” business class version of The Pier’s Day Suites.”
Cathay Pacific will also cut the ribbon on new first class and business class lounges at London’s Heathrow Airport in June.
The first class section will borrow some elements of The Pier First Class, albeit on a smaller scale, while the business class lounge will be a much larger version of its new-look cousins in Tokyo Haneda, Bangkok, Taipei and Manila, including a 'sit and slurp' Noodle Bar.
The later half of 2016 will lead into a milestone anniversary in September, 70 years after Cathay Pacific began as a HK$2 startup by Australian Sydney de Kantzow and American Roy Farrell.
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