Cathay Pacific will extend the status of Marco Polo Club members through as far as April 2022 even if they don't clock up a single mile on the airline for the next two years.
The Oneworld member had already promised a year of gratis status for Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond-grade frequent flyers whose membership anniversary fell due between May and December 2020, but the airline has now pushed this back further to encompass memberships that would expire as late as April 2021.
In addition, all unused 'mid-tier benefits' such as first and business class lounge passes expiring between May 2020 and April 2021 will be good for a further 12 months "so you can enjoy them when your travel resumes," the airline says. "The reissue should take 7 working days from the date of expiry."
Following a slump in international travel demand amid the coronavirus crisis and many countries opting to close their borders to foreigners, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon now serve barely a dozen destinations between them, while Hong Kong airport remains closed to visitors and transit passengers since that restriction was first put into place on March 25.
In April 2020, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 13,729 passengers – a decrease of 99.6 per cent compared to April 2019, and an average of fewer than 500 passengers a day
“The ban on transit traffic through Hong Kong together with minimal demand for outbound travel meant that the majority of our very limited traffic came from inbound travellers, notably from North America and the UK,” says Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam. "Overall, we do not anticipate we will see a meaningful recovery for an extended period."
In Australia, all Cathay Pacific flights to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth have been suspended, with Sydney down to just two flights a week for the time being.
However, Cathay Pacific plans to increase flights to Sydney and resume flying to Melbourne from June 21 as part of a slow but steady rebuild of its international network.
The optimistic schedule will see Sydney, London Heathrow, Los Angeles and Vancouver boosted to five flights per week. Melbourne is set for three flights per week, along with Amsterdam, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Mumbai and Delhi.
Cathay will also mount daily flights to Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, while its Asia-focussed Cathay Dragon arm is set for daily services to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
Much of this is "subject to government travel restrictions", Cathay Pacific says, with Hong Kong still barring visitors and transit passengers through an 'indefinite' extension of measures introduced on March 25 to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
As previously reported, Cathay Pacific is now considering swapping some or even all of its orders for the Boeing 777X for the smaller and cheaper Boeing 787-10 to conserve capital and reshape its fleet for a much lower level of demand in the post-coronavirus world,
Such a switch also has the potential to set back Cathay's plans to introduce new first class suites and business class seats with the debut of the 777-9, depending on how closely they were designed with that specific jet in mind, as the cabin of the Boeing 787-10 is a half-metre narrower.
In related news, Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot is extending the elite status level of its members through to February 2022, plus pushing back the expiry of unredeemed Aeroflot Bonus frequent flyer miles through 2021.