Cathay Pacific axes almost all Australian (and worldwide) flights

Cathay will slash its global network to just 12 cities, and Sydney is the sole Australian survivor.

By David Flynn, March 20 2020
Cathay Pacific axes almost all Australian (and worldwide) flights

Cathay Pacific will no longer fly to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth as of April, as the airline slashes its worldwide network to a mere dozen destinations.

Sydney will become Cathay Pacific's sole Australian destination, and even then it will see only three flights per week, compared to four flights per day at the end of last year.

The same 3x schedule will apply to London/Heathrow, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City. The airline's regional arm, Cathay Dragon, will operate three flights per week to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

Flights to all other destinations have been put on hold, representing a staggering 96% cut in passenger capacity, driven by "the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan."

The suspensions will run across April and May; Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are waiving all rebooking, rerouting and cancellation fees, with details published here.

Passengers heading out of Hong Kong on those flights will find only two Cathay Pacific lounges remain open – The Wing First Class and The Wing Business Class – as the airline has temporarily closed all other lounges "until further notice".

'Bare skeleton'

The Hong Kong-based airline admits to this being "a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule", and cautions "our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world, which will further dampen passenger demand."

Some of Cathay's aircraft will be flown empty of passengers but full of freight as the airline maintains its cargo lifeline.

“We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented," said Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam.

"We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically."

Turbulent times

Cathay Pacific has been particularly exposed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline's international routes are funnelled through its busy Hong Kong hub, while Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon also maintained an extensive network of 368 flights per week to 23 destinations across mainland China.

The Oneworld member began cutting back flights in mid-February, and although the primary focus was on mainland China, the airline's worldwide capacity at the time was wound back by around 30%.

Later that month, Cathay closed three of its busiest Hong Kong lounges The Pier First Class, The Deck and The Bridge – as passenger numbers continued to nosedive, with reports that The Pier Business Class is also set to close.


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

08 May 2017

Total posts 14

I hope they can survive this and that they get some Government support. A good airline which while it had financial issues would have still operated with the Coronavirus.

Hopefully freight business gives then enough cash to keep some lights on.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2017

Total posts 14

Sorry I meant without the Coronavirus not with it - DOH!

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 377

The world still needs airfreight and the dedicated airfreight fleets are not going to be enough. I think we will see more and more empty passenger planes being used to transport freight. Especially to Australia where sea freight takes so long. We have lost a massive amount of airfreight capacity, especially from Asia, with the loss of all these passenger flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Feb 2015

Total posts 150

Hey ET Team, the 'Details published here' link is broken?

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 44

Was surprised they were still flying as much as they were before this cut!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 90

Hey AJ, don't put the seats back in the A380's just yet...pallet racking and air bins appears to be the way to go.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 124

I would be interested to see pictures of them airports with all of these aircraft on the ground... where are they going to put them all??? Most struggle to fits what they have on a normal day, what do they do when 96% of aircraft are not in the air

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 May 2018

Total posts 8

Now down to two flights per week to Sydney.

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