Cathay Pacific eyes more routes for Dragonair aka Cathay Dragon

By David Flynn, January 18 2017
Cathay Pacific eyes more routes for Dragonair aka Cathay Dragon

Cathay Pacific is considering handing over more of its regional Asian flights to regional sibling Cathay Dragon – formerly known as Dragonair – as part of a strategic review of the airline.

Kuala Lumpur has already been 'Dragonised', with Cathay Dragon flights replacing those of its parent from March 2017, with all four daily services from Hong Kong due to be flown by the Cathay Dragon by May.

"We are currently looking into the feasibility of Cathay Dragon taking over a small number of Cathay Pacific’s other regional services, but as yet no firm decision has been taken," the airline confirmed in an internal briefing document sent to airline staff and sighted by Australian Business Traveller.

There has been speculation that apart from high-profile and high-profit destinations such as Singapore and Japan, much of Cathay's regional Asian network – along with the necessary aircraft and crew – would be taken over by Cathay Dragon.

The staff document also smacked down rumours of a buyout by Air China and subsequent move from the Oneworld airline alliance to the Star Alliance group.

Cathay Pacific has dubbed its strategy playbook 'Time to Win'  and comes as the airline faces growing competition from Chinese carriers.


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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2014

Total posts 144

Love the strategy name! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 141

I love the two brand approach and the livery, it'd be great to see them win. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 32


Well, I guess it's better than "fired", isn't it...


30 Jun 2016

Total posts 51

Only flown dragon air a couple of times on the HGK-PVG route but would struggle to notice a difference in service between the two. Stream to your device media with same content as CX, reasonable food, drinks included and good service. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 32

One thing of note is that CX doesn't operate a single narrow body aircraft. KA, however, does.

That would appear to be possibly the only "downgrade", as it were, on regional flights, i.e. a higher proportion of routes possibly flown with narrow body aircraft.

I don't know if switching from CX to KA fundamentally changes anything related to Marco Polo Club members and their benefits, e.g. lounge access, Club points, or upgrades.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 67

Unconfirmed reports are that China Air will announce a takeover of Cathay Pacific tomorrow.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

All those 'reports' are merely repeating what's been said in one (poorly-written) article by one (questionable, with zero track record) website.

There's never a shortage of rumour in this business, but when you see such a story published by a reputable news outlet - not spread second-hand by bloggers or posted on some aviation forum - then you can consider it to be more than just a rumour. Until then, Frankie says "Relax".

The staff memo is definitely intended to calm nerves internally. It's a complete non-news event for customers but something written to i) manage the anxiety of crew, with transition from CX to KA amid recent union activity and ii) manage the anxiety of the city as a whole, by squashing any rumour of control by China Air (proxy for ever increasing meddling of HKG affairs by the PRC). 

18 May 2016

Total posts 5

I don't know when an Air China Takeover will ever happen but what I want to see are sources for the supposed leave from Oneworld to Star Alliance 

I should imagine that's a follow through from an Air China takeover. Since that rumour is unsubstantiated, the rumour for a switch to Star Alliance is similarly discredited. 

I wonder who is making mischief spreading fake news?

An aside: As a bulwark against any real or perceived encroachment by Air China should BA, QR and AA buy a stake each in CX, to firmly entrench CX in Oneworld?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

29 Dec 2012

Total posts 22

CX appear to be taking the same approach as SQ which are planning to replace more of their regional routes with Scoot/ Tiger Air (LCC). 

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 14

Nonsense, Dragon is not an LCC like Tiger or Scoot. The closest SQ equivalent would be Silk Air which like Dragon has a proper business class and you also get access to the lounges of the parent airline, which you don't get on Scoot.

Silk Air is not a Star Alliance member like Dragon Air is a Oneworld member airline. Upshot: There is no consequences for OW elites when CX operated services are switched to KA. On the flip side all Star Alliance elite member benefits are null and void when SQ shift services to Silk Air. 

19 Jan 2017

Total posts 2

Dragonised ? more like LCCised

really with the "upgrading" of their 777 Y from 9 to 10 abreast, the reduction in Y food and service, they are racing to the bottom... better call it CX LCC than CX Econ.

better call it CX LCC

If becoming an LCC is the only way to remain profitable, I don't see a problem.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 14

Have any of you actually flown Dragon? I fly them often in business class into China from Hong Kong and they are a great airline, not an LCC by any stretch of the imagination.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2014

Total posts 4

Fly between CTU - HKG with KA a few times a year and I'd just chip in that while the food/beverage choice may be inferior to CX everything else is fairly acceptable (certainly not typical LCC). One thing though.. on their single aisle aircraft the leg space is abysmal.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 213

Be good idea if they go CNS/HKG its a 6.5 hr flight and in J return is around $6000 ridiculous. Seats are chockers but likes of Qantas and others cant see it.

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

You're forgetting that a good chunk of passengers on CNS-HKG are from Brisbane where the flight begins, rather than from Cairns alone...

20 Apr 2014

Total posts 93

Swire would be crazy not to take a good takeover offer from Air China and cashout. They're in a no-win situation with the other major China carriers (who have the gov. on their side) all working to ensure their market share is extracted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2015

Total posts 5

Have flown the HK to PVG or PEK connection a number of times and find the Dragonair hard and soft product in J to be exceptionally good - great service, comfortable seats etc - far superior to QF domestic hard product for example. However, one time when an aircraft change meant there was no J, the experience was a very different matter indeed. Would liken that experience to the HK equivalent of Tigerair!

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 117

Beautiful logo and name, can't wait to fly on a Dragon in the next few weeks.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 207

Having flown both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon many times between HKG and PVG, PEK and BLR it has been almost impossible to tell the two apart in terms of hard product and service; I really struggle to understand why they feel there is a need to have two distinct brands.


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

AWA2602, I assume you were in economy.  The difference in business class is huge - CX features long-haul seats, KA features regional seats.  For overnight flights that is a massive difference.

Don't, incidentally, expect any changes on the India routes.  The India-HKG agreement specifies two airlines from each country.  So for HKG - that is CX and KA.  They aren't going to hand over their routes from one to the other and instantly face the prospect of local competition.

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