Cathay Pacific will scrap its Cathay Dragon offshoot "with immediate effect" as part of an extensive cost-saving exercise aimed at ensuring the parent airline's survival as it weathers the global pandemic and "adapts to the new travel reality."
Cathay Dragon serves as the regional arm of Cathay Pacific, flying to a network of some 50 destinations across Asia, with around half of those being in mainland China.
Cathay Pacific Group Chairman Patrick Healy said that while he was sad to see the end of the 35 year old airline, "the reality is that in these difficult times we must focus on a single world-leading premium travel brand in Cathay Pacific, complemented by a single low-cost leisure travel brand in HK Express."
"There are substantial operation and marketing efficiencies to be gained by combining our fleets and simplifying our brand architecture in this way."
What becomes of the Cathay Dragon fleet and network?
Healy said that Cathay Dragon's routes would be split between Cathay Pacific and HK Express, with the group seeking regulatory approval "for a majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes to be operated by Cathay Pacific and HK Express" – indicating that some of Cathay Dragon's routes will be dropped from the overall network.
The Cathay Dragon fleet was set for an expansion with as many as 16 new Airbus A321neo jets – the first two of which are due to arrive in the coming weeks – which will also debut a new regional business class.
The folding of Cathay Dragon into Cathay Pacific has been tipped in recent months, and in some ways would be the inevitable conclusion to a process which over recent years has seen the airline rebranded from Dragonair to Cathay Dragon, adopt an almost-identical livery to Cathay Pacific, and have its own lounges subsumed by the parent airline.
The move would also mirror a similar play by Singapore Airlines to abolish its regional SilkAir brand and bring that airline's operations back under the Singapore Airlines umbrella. This has already begun, with Singapore Airlines livery now adorning some former SilkAir Boeing 737 jets.
Healy also announced that Cathay Pacific has pushed back the delivery of its Boeing 777-9 jets to "beyond 2025", which will also delay the debut of the airline's next-generation first class suites and business class seats.