Cathay Pacific: Wikis


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Cathay Pacific
Founded 24 September 1946
Hubs Hong Kong International Airport
Focus cities * Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
* Taipei Taoyuan International Airport
Frequent flyer program * Asia Miles
* The Marco Polo Club
Member lounge * The Arrival
* The Pier
* The Wing
Alliance Oneworld
Subsidiaries * Air Hong Kong
* Dragonair
Fleet size 127 (+31 orders) incl. cargo
Destinations 58 incl. cargo
Company slogan Great Service. Great People. Great Fares.
Parent company Swire Pacific
Headquarters Hong Kong
Key people * Christopher Pratt (Chairman)
* Tony Tyler (CEO)
* John Slosar (COO)

Cathay Pacific Airways Limited (traditional Chinese: 國泰航空有限公司Jyutping: gwok3 taai3 hong4 hung1 jau5 haan6 gung1 si1, SEHK: 0293) is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, with its headquarters and main hub at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline also operates fifth freedom flights from Bangkok and Taipei, its major focus cities. The airline's operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 114 destinations in 36 countries worldwide, including codeshares and joint ventures, with a fleet of 126 wide-body aircraft, consisting of Airbus A330s and A340s, Boeing 747s and 777s. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Dragonair, operates to 29 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region from its Hong Kong home. In 2008, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair operated 138,000 flights, carrying nearly 25 million passengers and over 1.6 million tonnes of cargo and mail.

The airline was founded on 24 September 1946 by American Roy C. Farrell and Australian Sydney H. de Kantzow, with each man putting up HK$1 to register the airline. They named it Cathay Pacific because Cathay was the ancient name given to China; and Pacific because Farrell speculated that they would one day fly across the Pacific. The airline made the world's first non-stop transpolar flight flying over the North Pole in July 1998, and it also operated the maiden flight to arrive at the new Hong Kong International Airport. In July 2001, it was involved in one of the biggest industrial relations conflicts in its history, by firing 49 of its 1,500 pilots. Twelve of the pilots were eventually offered positions in its cargo division. The airline celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006; and as of October 2009, its major shareholders are Swire Pacific and Air China.

Cathay Pacific is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, with its subsidiary, Dragonair, as an affiliate member of the alliance. The airline was awarded with a Five Star Airline ranking and 2009 Airline of the Year by Skytrax.



Cathay Pacific City
Cathay Pacific City, the headquarters

Early years

Cathay Pacific was founded in Hong Kong on 24 September 1946 by American Roy Farrell and Australian Sydney de Kantzow.[1] Both men were ex-air force pilots who had flown the Hump, a route over the Himalayan mountains.[2] Each man put up HK$1 to register the airline.[3] Although initially based in Shanghai, the two men moved to Hong Kong where they formally began Cathay Pacific.[1] They named it Cathay the ancient name given to China, derived from "Khitan", and Pacific because Farrell speculated that they would one day fly across the Pacific (indeed came true in the 1970s). The Chinese name for the company "國泰" comes from a Chinese idiom meaning "Grand and Peaceful State".[4]

According to legend, the airline was conceived by Farrell and some foreign correspondents at the bar of the Manila Hotel.[1] On Cathay Pacific's maiden voyage, Farrell and de Kantzow flew from Hong Kong to Manila, and later on to Shanghai.[5] They had a single Douglas DC-3, nicknamed Betsy. The airline initially flew routes between Hong Kong, Sydney, Manila, Singapore, Shanghai, and Canton, while scheduled service was limited to Bangkok, Manila, and Singapore only.[1]

In 1948 Butterfield & Swire (now known as Swire Group) bought 45% of Cathay Pacific, with Australian National Airways taking 35% and Farrell and de Kantzow taking 10% each.[3] The new company began operations on 1 July 1948 and was registered as Cathay Pacific (1948) Ltd on 18 October 1948.[6] Swire later acquired 52% of Cathay Pacific and today the airline is still 40% owned by the Swire Group through Swire Pacific Limited.[7]

Expansion in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s

The airline prospered in late 1950s and into the 1960s by buying its archrival, Hong Kong Airways, on 1 July 1959.[8] Between 1962 and 1967, the airline recorded double digit growth on average every year and the world's first to operate international services to Fukuoka, Nagoya and Osaka in Japan.[1] Eighteen years after the airline was founded, it carried its one millionth passenger and acquired its first jet engine aircraft Convair 880 in 1964.[2][9] In the 1970s, Cathay Pacific installed a computerised reservation system and flight simulators. In 1979, the airline acquired its first Boeing 747 and applied for traffic rights to begin flying to London in 1980. Expansion continued into the 1980s, with nonstop service to Vancouver in 1983, with continuing service on to San Francisco in 1986 when an industry-wide boom encouraged route growth to many European and North American centres.[9] On 15 May 1986, the airline went public and listed in the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.[10]

The 1990s

In January 1990, Cathay Pacific and its parent company, Swire Pacific, acquired a significant shareholding in Dragonair, and a 75% stake in cargo airline Air Hong Kong in 1994.[11][12] During the early 1990s, the airline launched a programme to upgrade its passenger service. Also, the green and white striped livery was replaced with the current "brushwing" livery. Later, the airline began a US$9 billion fleet replacement program during the mid-1990s that resulted with it having one of the youngest airline fleets in the world.[13] In 1996, CITIC Pacific increased its holdings in Cathay Pacific from 10% to 25%, while the Swire Group holding was reduced to 44% as two other Chinese companies, CNAC and CTS also bought substantial holdings.[2]

On 1 July 1997, administration of Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to the People's Republic of China. Most of the airline's aircraft were registered in Hong Kong and bore a registration beginning with "VR". Under the terms of an agreement within the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG), all registrations were changed to the prefix "B" by December 1997 , which is used by the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).[14] Cathay Pacific aircraft formerly carried a painted Union Jack on the tail but these were removed several years prior to the 1997 takeover.[15][16]

In February 1999, Cathay Pacific became a founding member of the Oneworld Alliance.[17] The same year, they completed their new headquarters, dubbed Cathay Pacific City, which is located at Hong Kong International Airport.[18] Previously the airline had been headquartered at the Swire House, which was a complex named after the airline's parent company.[19] The airline was hurt by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, but recorded a record HK$5 billion profit in 2000.[20]

Cathay Pacific aircraft at Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Pacific aircraft at Hong Kong International Airport

New Hong Kong airport and transpolar flights

On 5 July 1998, Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport witnessed its last commercial departing flight, Cathay Pacific Flight 251 to London Heathrow Airport, after over 73 years of operation. The next day, Cathay Pacific Flight 889, from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, piloted by Captain Mike Lowes and First Officer Kelvin Ma, was the maiden flight to arrive at the new Hong Kong International Airport, located at Chek Lap Kok, west of Hong Kong.[21] This flight was also the world's first non-stop transpolar flight from New York to Hong Kong. The flight, dubbed Polar One, takes approximately 16 hours to travel between Hong Kong and New York, saving about three to four hours on journey time, compared to the one stop service via Vancouver. It is Cathay Pacific's longest non-stop flight, as well as one of the longest non-stop flights by distance in the world at 8,055 mi (12,963 km).[22]

The airline operated the first commercial non-stop transpolar flight from Canada on 19 May 2000, with Cathay Pacific Flight 829 from Toronto to Hong Kong. The flight flew directly over Hudson Bay and passed within 50 nautical miles (93 km; 58 mi) of the North Pole, it took just 14 hours and 59 minutes and saved almost three hours from the normal route, which included a technical stop in Anchorage. It is Cathay Pacific's second longest non-stop flight with a distance of 7,809 mi (12,567 km).[23]

The 49ers - industrial troubles

In 2001, the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA) launched a "work to rule" campaign to further its campaign for pay improvements and changes to roster scheduling practices. The action involved pilots refusing to work flights that were not scheduled on their roster. Although this alone did not cause extensive disruption, rostered pilots began calling in sick for their flights. Combined with the work to rule campaign, the airline was unable to cover all of its scheduled flights and cancellations resulted. Cathay Pacific steadfastly refused to negotiate with the HKAOA under threat of industrial action.[24]

On 9 July 2001, reportedly following a comprehensive review of the employment histories of all its pilots, the company fired 49 of its 1,500 pilots. This group became known colloquially as "the 49ers". Nearly half of the fired pilots were captains, representing five percent of the total pilot group. Of the 21 officers of the HKAOA, nine were fired, including four of the seven union negotiators.[25]

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 taking off
Boeing 747-400 takes off

Then-HKAOA president Captain Nigel Demery took the view that "the firing was pure intimidation, a union-bust straight up, designed to be random enough to put the fear in all pilots that they might be next, no reason given, "[25] The dismissals were challenged in a number of legal proceedings, but none were reinstated. The airline later offered the 49 pilots it terminated in 2001 the chance to reapply for pilot positions with its cargo division, guaranteeing such applicants first interviews, subject to passing psychometric testing. Nineteen former employees applied and twelve were offered jobs.[26]

Current relations between the company and the HKAOA are cordial. The replacement of Captain Demery by Captain Murray Gardner is said to have had a lot to do with this change in relationship. Captain Gardner favoured a more diplomatic and conciliatory approach to dealing with management, and workplace relations between the two groups have been largely conciliatory since 2002.[27]

On 11 November 2009, 18 of The 49ers succeeded in the Hong Kong Court of First Instance concerning their joint claims for breach of contract, breach of the Employment Ordinance and defamation.

Judge Anselmo Reyes ruled the airline had contravened the Employment Ordinance by dismissing the pilots without a valid reason, adding that they had been sacked primarily because of union activities. He also held that remarks by former director and chief operating officer Philip Chen Nanlok and chief executive Tony Tyler after the sackings were defamatory.

The judge handed the pilots a victory in their long-running legal battle,with individual awards of HK$3.3 million for defamation together with a month's pay and HK$150,000 for the sackings. The judgement is being appealed.

Acquisition and downsizing of Dragonair

On 9 June 2006, the airline underwent a shareholding realignment under which Dragonair became a wholly owned subsidiary but continued to operate under its own brand. By acquiring Dragonair, this meant gaining more access to the restricted, yet rapidly growing, Mainland China market and more opportunities for sharing of resources. CNAC, and its subsidiary, Air China, acquired a 17.5 percent stake in Cathay Pacific, and the airline doubled its shareholding in Air China to 17.5 percent. CITIC Pacific reduced its shareholding to 17.5 percent and Swire Group reduced its shareholding to 40 percent.[7][28][29]

Dragonair had originally planned significant international expansion. It was already operating services to Bangkok and Tokyo, and was to have a dedicated cargo fleet of nine Boeing 747-400BCF aircraft by 2009 operating to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Columbus.[30] It had also acquired three Airbus A330-300 aircraft to commence services to Sydney and Seoul.[31]

Following the acquisition by Cathay Pacific, Dragonair's proposed expansion plans underwent a comprehensive route compatibility analysis with the Cathay network, in an effort to reduce duplication. Dragonair services to Bangkok and Tokyo were terminated, and new services launched to Sendai, Phuket, Manila and Kathmandu. With the merging of similar departments at the two previously separate airlines, some Dragonair staff have had their employment contracts transferred to Cathay Pacific, and others made redundant due to the efficiencies gained in the merger. This has resulted in an approximately 37 percent decrease in the number of staff contractually employed by Dragonair.[32]

Although there has been speculation that Dragonair will cease as a brand and be fully absorbed into Cathay Pacific, this is unlikely as Dragonair enjoy significant market awareness in regional Chinese markets.[29]


A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 on the tarmac
Boeing 777-200 at Nagoya, Japan

To celebrate the airline's 60th anniversary in 2006, a year of road shows named the "Cathay Pacific 60th Anniversary Skyshow" was held where the public could see the developments of the airline, play games, meet some of the airline's staff, and view vintage uniforms. Cathay Pacific also introduced anniversary merchandise and in-flight meals served by famous restaurants in Hong Kong in collaboration with the celebrations.[33]

In June 2008, Cathay Pacific entered into a plea bargain with the United States Department of Justice in respect of antitrust investigations over air cargo price fixing agreements. It was fined US$60 million. The airline has subsequently set up an internal Competition Compliance Office, reporting to Chief Operating Officer John Slosar, to ensure that the Group complies with all relevant competition and antitrust laws in the jurisdiction in which it operates. The breaches for which Cathay Pacific Cargo were being investigated in the U.S. were not illegal under Hong Kong competition law.[34][35]

In March 2009, the airline reported a record full-year loss of HK$8.56 billion for 2008, which was also the carrier's first since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. The record loss included fuel-hedging losses of HK$7.6 billion and a HK$468 million charge for a price-fixing fine in the U.S. It had to scrap its final dividend. The hedging losses were a result of locking in fuel prices at higher than prevailing market price. As of the end of 2008, Cathay Pacific has hedged about half of its fuel needs until the end of 2011. The airline at the time estimated that it would face no further cash costs from the hedges if the average market price stood at US$75, enabling it recoup provisions it made in 2008.[36]

The flattening out of fuel prices resulted in Cathay Pacific recording a paper fuel hedging gain for its half year reports for 2009. However, as a result of the global economic situation, the Group reported an operating loss. Given the current economic climate, and in line with the steps being taken by other major airlines around the world, the airline has undertaken a comprehensive review of all its routes and operations. This has resulted in frequencies being reduced to certain destinations, ad hoc cancellations on other routes, deferred capital expenditure, parked aircraft and introduced a Special Leave Scheme for staff to conserve cash.[37] According to CEO Tony Tyler, the yield from passengers was "hugely down" and the airline had lost "a lot of premium traffic". He noted that it could take 20 passengers in economy to make up for the lost revenue of one fewer first class passenger flying to New York.[38]


Branding and publicity efforts have revolved primarily around the staff and passengers of Cathay Pacific. The airline's first campaign focusing on the passenger was "It's the little things that move you". The “little things” are the satisfiers to the Cathay Pacific passengers. The airline's latest advertising campaign is "Great Service. Great People. Great Fares."[39] Another application, Meet the Team, introduces some of the staff through profiles, revealing many behind-the-scenes stories many of which contain inspiring facts about their career life.[40]


Cathay Pacific serves 115 destinations in 36 countries and territories on five continents, with a well-developed Asian network. The airline serves a number of gateway cities in North America and Europe, with easy connections with its Oneworld and codeshare partners, American Airlines and British Airways via Los Angeles and London, respectively. In addition, the airline serves 10 French cities via a codeshare partnership with French national rail operator, SNCF, from Paris. The airline also has access to over 17 destinations in China through its subsidiary, Dragonair.[41]

Cathay Pacific suspended its flight operations to and from Colombo on 26 March 2007 due to security concerns, following the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport. The services between Hong Kong and Colombo via Bangkok and Singapore have subsequently resumed on 30 March 2008.[42][43] In 2008, the airline increased services to Auckland, Brisbane, Chennai, Delhi, Dubai, Mumbai, Perth, Singapore and Sydney, while reduced services to Toronto and Vancouver.[44] In 2009, the airline increased services to Jakarta and Shanghai, while services to Paris were increased from 29 March 2009 to 31 August 2009 and from 18 December 2009 to 6 January 2010. In addition, Jeddah will be Cathay Pacific's second destination in Saudi Arabia from 25 October, while services to Brisbane and San Francisco are temporarily reduced from September to 17 November and October, respectively. In late 2009, services increased back to Toronto and Vancouver at a frequency of twice daily. [45][46]


Boeing 747-400 at London Heathrow Airport
Boeing 747-400 at London Heathrow Airport in the current livery


All Cathay Pacific aircraft carry the following livery, logos and trademarks: the "brushwing" livery on the body and on the vertical stabilizer, introduced in the early 1990s; the "Asia's world city" brandline, the Brand Hong Kong logotype and the dragon symbol; the Oneworld logo and the Swire Group logo.[47][48][49]

Special livery

In 1997, a Boeing 747-200 (B-HIB) named Spirit of Hong Kong, with a special livery, a big traditional Chinese brushstroke character "家" (means family), a traditional Chinese wording "繁榮進步 更創新高" painted on the left side of the aircraft and a wording "The Spirit of Hong Kong 97" painted on the right side of the aircraft, to commemorate the handover of Hong Kong back to China.[50]

On 17 January 2000, Spirit of Hong Kong made a return on a Boeing 747-400 (B-HOX) to celebrate the legendary resilience of Hong Kong with a new special livery depicts a young athlete overcoming a series of challenges to reach his goal. A special wording "Same Team. Same Dream. " was painted on the left side of the aircraft and a traditional Chinese wording "積極進取 飛越更高理想" was painted on the right side of the aircraft.[51][52][53]

On 5 July 2002, a Boeing 747-400 (B-HOY), named Asia's world city, carried a special livery, the "Asia's world city" brandline, the Brand Hong Kong logotype and the dragon symbol, to promote Hong Kong around the world.[54]

On 1 September 2006, Cathay Pacific celebrated its 100th aircraft, an Airbus A330-300 (B-LAD), named Progress Hong Kong, with wording "100th aircraft", "Progress Hong Kong" and a traditional Chinese wording "進步精神" painted on the rear of the aircraft.[55]

In January 2008, a new Boeing 777-300ER (B-KPF) was painted in the Asia's world city livery.[56]

Currently, a total of three Cathay Pacific aircraft are painted in the Oneworld livery to commemorate the alliance's 10th anniversary. On 12 March 2009, Cathay Pacific's first Oneworld aircraft, an Airbus A340-300 (B-HXG), was painted in the new, standard Oneworld livery. An additional aircraft, an Airbus A330-300 (B-HLU), has also been painted in the Oneworld livery while a brand-new Boeing 777-300ER (B-KPL) was painted and delivered on 17 October 2009.[57][58][59]


Cathay Pacific operates 100 passenger planes, 40 of which are fitted with three classes of service (First, long-haul Business, and Economy) for long-haul flights and 60 of which are fitted with two classes of service (long-haul or regional Business and Economy) for short-haul flights and some long-haul flights. The airline operates only wide-body aircraft, which includes their cargo fleet of 24 freighters.

Cathay Pacific passenger fleet (as of 10 March 2010 (2010 -03-10))[60]
Aircraft Total Orders Passengers Note
F J Y Total
Airbus A330-300 32 15 8 0 44 267 311 Fitted with Regional Business Class
17 0 41 223 264 Fitted with new long-haul product
Airbus A340-300 15 11 0 0 26 257 283 Fitted with new long-haul product
4 8 30 205 243 Fitted with First and long-haul Business
Boeing 747-400 23 0 9 46 324 379 Fitted with new long-haul product
Boeing 777-200 5 0 0 45 291 336 Fitted with Regional Business Class
Boeing 777-300 12 0 0 45 353 398 Fitted with Regional Business Class
Boeing 777-300ER 14 16 6 57 238 301 Fitted with new long-haul product
Total 101 23

Passenger fleet notes

Airbus A330-300 with Progress Hong Kong livery
Airbus A330-300 fuselage livery. This aircraft was named "Progress Hong Kong"

On 21 May 1998, Cathay Pacific became the launch carrier when it took the first delivery of the Boeing 777-300, the newest member of the Boeing 777 family, at a ceremony in Everett. The airline was also a launch customer for the Boeing 777-200.[61]

On 28 November 2002, the airline took delivery of its first Airbus A340-600 aircraft at a ceremony at the Airbus factory in Toulouse. Cathay Pacific is the launch customer in Asia for the A340-600 and this aircraft is the first of three leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).[62]

On 1 December 2005, Cathay Pacific announced an order for 16 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, four on lease from ILFC, to be delivered between September 2007 and July 2010, plus options on 20 more of the type, two of which were converted to orders on 1 June 2006. The airline also ordered 3 more A330-300 the same day, with the delivery of the aircraft scheduled for 2008.[63][64][65]

On 29 August 2006, the airline took delivery of its 100th aircraft, an Airbus A330-300 with the registration B-LAD. For the aircraft acceptance ceremony in Toulouse, the aircraft was painted in a 100th aircraft livery with a 60th anniversary sticker behind the second doors (2L and 2R). The aircraft was named "Progress Hong Kong", a name that was chosen from a competition by the staff.[55][66]

On 7 August 2007, Cathay Pacific announced that it had placed an additional order for five more wide-body Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for a total price of about US$1.4 billion, increasing its commitment to a total of 23 of the aircraft type.[67] On 30 October 2007, the airline's CEO, Tony Tyler, stated that the carrier has no plans regarding the purchase of either the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A380 for the time being.[68] On 8 November 2007, the airline announced that it had placed an order for seven additional Boeing 777-300ERs and 10 747-8F freighters with a list price of US$5.2 billion.[69] In addition, it has also took 14 options for the new freighter at that time. This order, if all options are exercised, would make Cathay Pacific the largest operator of 777-300ERs in Asia and largest operator of 747-8Fs in the world.[70] On 6 December 2007, the airline placed a firm order for eight more Airbus A330-300 aircraft valued at approximately US$1.7 billion at list prices. Together with the commitment for 17 long-haul passenger aircraft and freighters announced the previous month, the new aircraft will take the Cathay Pacific Group's fleet size to 200 by 2012. From that 200 aircraft, the airline will operate 155 itself, and the rest will be used by its subsidiaries.[71]

On 11 March 2009, it was reported that the delivery of two aircraft due in 2008 was delayed after a strike at Boeing. Additionally, the delivery of two Boeing 747-8 freighters due this year have been pushed back to 2010 amid delays at the planemaker.[36]

The delivery positions on new Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER have been deferred due to the economic recession. Cathay Pacific has also sent four Airbus A340-300 and one Boeing 747-400 to Victorville Airport for storage.[72]


Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-400BCF at London Heathrow Airport
Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-400BCF taxis to the runway at London Heathrow Airport

Cathay Pacific Cargo operates a fleet of 24 freighters to 38 destinations around the world, in addition to utilising the cargo space on its passenger aircraft. The cargo subsidiary was established in 1981 with a twice-a-week Hong Kong–FrankfurtLondon service operated jointly with Lufthansa.[73] The cargo division ranked fifth in the freight category of the 2008 The World's Top 25 Airlines by Air Transport World.[74]

Cathay Pacific Cargo fleet (as of 5 August 2009 (2009 -08-05))[60]
Aircraft Total Orders
Boeing 747-400BCF
Boeing 747-400ERF
Boeing 747-400F
Boeing 747-8F
Total 24 10

Cargo fleet notes
On 22 June 2006, the airline announced an order of six Boeing 747-400ERF freighters, delivered in 2008 and 2009.[75]

On 18 March 2008, Airport Authority Hong Kong (HKAA) awarded Cathay Pacific Services Ltd (CPSL), a wholly owned subsidiary, a non-exclusive 20-year franchise to invest in, design, construct and operate a new air cargo terminal at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). The new cargo terminal will be built in the cargo area at the airport, close to the existing cargo servicing facilities, with a site area of approximately 10 hectares. The new cargo terminal will be operated by a separate management team in CPSL.[76] On 15 January 2009, CPSL signed a supplementary agreement with the HKAA to defer the completion of its new cargo terminal by a maximum of 24 months to mid-2013, in response to the current market conditions. A non disclosed compensation amount for the deferral is included in the supplementary agreement.[77]

Five Boeing 747-400BCF are stored at Victorville Airport due to economic recession.[78]


Cathay Pacific DC-3 Betsy
Cathay Pacific DC-3 Niki
Niki outside Cathay Pacific City

Since its conception in 1946, the airline had operated many types of aircraft. The first two aircraft were two World War II surplus Douglas DC-3s named Betsy and Niki. Betsy (VR-HDB), the first aircraft for Cathay Pacific, is now a permanent exhibit in the Hong Kong Science Museum. Niki (VR-HDA) was lost, but a similar DC-3 was purchased as a replacement. It was renovated and repainted by the airline's Engineering Department and maintenance provider, Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, and it now wears the second Cathay Pacific livery from the late 1940s. This aircraft received Niki's old VR-HDA aircraft registration and is now on public view in the car park outside the Flight Training Centre of Cathay Pacific City.[79]

Other aircraft that have been in service with Cathay Pacific are (in alphabetical order):

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cathay Pacific was the largest operator of the Lockheed TriStar outside the United States.[84]

Loyalty programmes

Cathay Pacific has two loyalty programmes: The Marco Polo Club (The Club), the loyalty programme, and Asia Miles, the travel reward programme. Members of The Club are automatically enrolled as Asia Miles members.[85] Asia Miles has been named the "Best Frequent Flyer Programme" in the 2009 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards and is the fifth consecutive year it has won the award. As of November 2009, there were roughly 3.5 million members.[86]

The Marco Polo Club

The Marco Polo Club logo
The Marco Polo Club logo

The Marco Polo Club is divided into four tiers, Green (entry level), Silver, Gold and Diamond, based on the member's past travel. A joining fee of US$50 is applicable for a Marco Polo Club membership. Members earn Club Miles and Club Sectors on eligible fare classes with Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Oneworld member airlines. These are used to calculate the member's eligibility for membership renewal, upgrade or downgrade during the membership year. Higher-tiered members are provided with increased travel benefits such as guaranteed Economy Class seat, additional baggage allowance, priority flight booking and airport lounge access. The Marco Polo Club membership is terminated after 12 months of inactivity or failure to meet minimum travel criteria as outlined in the membership guide.[85][87]

The Marco Polo Club Tiers
Tier Level Benefits Requirements Oneworld Status
  • Dedicated 24-hour club service line, Marco Polo check-in counters and service desk
  • Lounge access redemption
  • Personalised baggage name tags
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority notice of promotions and offers
US$50 to join and 4 Club sectors within a membership year for renewal
  • Receive all the benefits of Green tier
  • Advance Seat Reservation
  • Cathay Pacific and Dragonair Business Class lounge access
  • Extra 10kgs baggage allowance and redemption
  • Priority reservation waitlisting, baggage handling
  • Usage of Business Class counters and Frequent Visitor e-Channels in Hong Kong
  • Extra 10kgs cabin baggage allowance
30,000 miles (48,000 km) or
20 Club sectors within a membership year

Oneworld Ruby Status.png

  • Receive all the benefits of Silver tier
  • High priority waitlisting (above Silver)
  • Extra 15kgs or 1 piece baggage allowance
  • Guaranteed Economy Class seat 72 hours prior to departure
  • Invite a traveling companion to Business Class lounges
  • Usage of Arrivals lounges
60,000 miles (97,000 km) or
40 Club sectors within a membership year

Oneworld Sapphire Status.png

  • Receive all the benefits of Gold tier
  • Highest level of priority and recognition
  • Guaranteed Economy or Business Class seat 24 hours prior to departure
  • Top priority waitlisting and baggage handling
  • Usage of First Class check-in counters and lounges
  • Invite two traveling companions to First or Business Class lounges
  • Extra 20kgs or 1 piece baggage allowance
  • Extra 15kgs cabin baggage allowance
120,000 miles (190,000 km) or
80 Club sectors within a membership year

Oneworld Emerald Status.png


The Green tier is the entry level to the Marco Polo Club. Benefits include dedicated 24-hour club service line for flight reservations, designated Marco Polo check-in counters, excess baggage allowance and lounge access redemptions, and priority boarding. Members are required to earn four Club Sectors for membership renewal.[88]


Silver tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 30,000 Club Miles or 20 Club Sectors during the membership year. Additional benefits for Silver Card members include advance seat reservations, priority waitlisting, Business Class check-in counters, 10 kg (22 lb) extra baggage allowance, priority baggage handling and Business Class lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated flights. Additionally, members are eligible to use the Frequent Visitor e-Channels, for seamless self-service immigration clearance at Hong Kong International Airport. Marco Polo Club Silver tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Ruby tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Ruby benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[88][89]


Gold tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 60,000 Club Miles or 40 Club Sectors during the membership year. Additional benefits for Gold Card members include guaranteed Economy Class seat on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair flights booked 72 hours before departure, 15 kg (33 lb) or one piece of extra baggage allowance, Business Class lounge access with one guest when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated flights and arrival lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated and marketed flights. Marco Polo Club Gold tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Sapphire benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[88]


The highest tier in the Marco Polo Club. Diamond tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 120,000 Club Miles or 80 Club Sectors during the membership year. Additional benefits for Diamond Card members include top priority waitlisting, guaranteed Economy Class or Business Class seat on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair flights booked 24 hours before departure, First Class check-in counters, 20 kg (44 lb) or one piece of extra baggage allowance, First Priority baggage handling, First Class lounge access with two guests when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated flights and Business Class lounge access with two guests when flying on any airline. Marco Polo Club Diamond tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Emerald tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Emerald benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[88]

Asia Miles

Asia Miles logo
Asia Miles logo

Asia Miles is a more traditional travel rewards programme in which Mileage Credits are accumulated by flying on Cathay Pacific, Dragonair or a partner airline. Mileage Credits can also be earned by spending through a number of hotels, credit card companies, car rental agencies, telecommunication companies and other non-airline channels. These miles can then be redeemed for flights or other products and services. Asia Miles membership is free; however, membership will be suspended after 36 months of inactivity, and can be closed without notice, once all remaining mileage credits have expired.[90][91]



Cathay Pacific has diversified into related industries and sectors, including ground handling, aviation engineering, air catering.[92]

Companies with major Cathay Pacific Group stake include:

Company Type Principal activities Incorporated in Group's Equity Shareholding
(10 March 2010)
Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Subsidiary Engineering Hong Kong 100%
Air Hong Kong Joint Venture Cargo airline Hong Kong 40%
Dragonair Subsidiary Airline Hong Kong 100%
Cathay Pacific Cargo Subsidiary Cargo airline Hong Kong 100%
Cathay Pacific Catering Services (HK) Limited Subsidiary Catering services Hong Kong 100%
Hong Kong Airport Services Subsidiary Ground handling Hong Kong 100%
Hong Kong Aero Engine Services Joint Venture Engineering Hong Kong 45%
Vogue Laundry Service Limited Subsidiary Laundry Hong Kong 100%
China Pacific Laundry Services Joint Venture Laundry Taiwan 45%
VN/CX Catering Services Limited Joint Venture Catering services Vietnam 40%
CLS Catering Services Limited Joint Venture Catering services Canada 30%


Cathay Pacific First Class fruit and cheese course
Cathay Pacific First Class fruit and cheese course

Food and beverages served on flights from Hong Kong are provided by Cathay Pacific Catering Services (CPCS) facilities in Hong Kong.[93] CLS Catering Services Limited, a joint venture with LSG Sky Chefs, provides the inflight catering from Toronto and Vancouver airports;[94][95] while Vietnam Air Caterers, a joint venture between CPCS and Vietnam Airlines, provides the inflight catering for flights from Ho Chi Minh City.[96]

In-flight entertainment

StudioCX, Cathay Pacific's in-flight entertainment system, equipped with personal TVs (PTVs) in every seat, offers the latest Hollywood blockbuster movies, popular Asian and Western TV programmes, music and games. In addition, the airline provides a range different newspapers and magazines from around the world, including the airline's award-winning in-flight magazine Discovery. Passengers with visual impairment can request for Hong Kong's South China Morning Post in Braille to be available on board.[97]

On medium- and long-haul aircraft featuring the new cabin designs, StudioCX provides Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) for every passenger and offers up to 100 movies, 350 TV programmes, 888 CD albums in 24 different genres, 22 radio channels and more than 70 interactive games. Panasonic's eX2 system is installed on aircraft with the new seat configuration, and is available on all Boeing 747-400s, 777-300ERs and A340-300s, and selected Airbus A330-300s. All passengers on regional aircraft are offered up to 26 video channels, 22 audio channels and 15 games on a cycle basis.[98]


On 22 January 2007 and 18 December 2008 respectively, Cathay Pacific launched more methods to check-in for flights. Among them were self-check in utilizing a kiosk at Hong Kong International Airport and select destinations globally. Another checking in via a mobile phone. Worldwide, only a limited number of other airlines offer these options. Cathay Pacific later announced, on April 17, 2009, the airline's first ever Mobile Boarding Pass application, dubbed CX Mobile, was launched. Passengers can use the application to check flight arrivals and departures, check-in for their flights, read about the destination they are flying to using City Guides. CX Mobile has become a hit with passengers, making Cathay Pacific into one of the industry leaders in offering mobile services to users of smart phones.[99][100][101]

Cathay Pacific is also now following a trend among many airlines to improve its brand image to customers and shareholders with social media, and is ranked fourth worldwide.[102] The airline now utilizes range of social media tools including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Youtube and blogging to share ideas with customers.[103] In addition, it has launched a virtual tour to enable passengers to experience Cathay Pacific's new cabins and services without even having to step aboard the aircraft.[104]

Travel classes

Cathay Pacific has been phasing in new cabin interiors and inflight entertainment since May 2007. The first aircraft with the new seats is a Boeing 747-400, which flew its first commercial flight as Cathay Pacific Flight 460 between Hong Kong and Taipei on 11 May 2007. At that time only the new First and Business Classes were installed; however this aircraft now has the new Economy seats, installed during June 2008. The rollout of the new cabins has been completed since November 2009 with the retrofit of the A340-300 fleet.[105][106]

First class

New First Class on the Boeing 747-400
Cathay Pacific New First Class on the Boeing 747-400

The new First Class seats can be converted into a fully lie-flat bed measuring 36 in × 81 in (91 cm × 210 cm). The new seats include a massage function, a personal closet, an ottoman for stowage or guest seating, and an adjustable 17 in (43 cm), 16:9 PTV.[107][108][109]

Business class

New Business Class on Boeing 747-400 upper deck
New Business Class on the Boeing 747-400 upper deck

The new long-haul Business Class seats are arranged in a herring-bone configuration similar to that used by Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic and Jet Airways. The seats are fully lie-flat with increased privacy and a larger PTV with AVOD. Additionally, the seats feature lumbar support, massage, a 110V AC power socket, and a personal phone.[110][111]

The existing Regional Business Class is provided on Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777s (excluding the 777-300ER) and selected Airbus A330-300s. Regional Business Class seats have 20 in (51 cm) width and recline to 45 in (110 cm) of pitch and feature electrical recline and leg rest. A 9 in (23 cm) PTV is located in the armrest provides 20 video and 22 audio channels but does not offer AVOD.[112][113][114]

Economy class

The new Economy Class seats, offered on aircraft outfitted with the refurbished long-haul interiors, were designed by B/E Aerospace. New features of these seats include a fixed back design (shell) that allows passengers to recline without intruding on those seated behind, a 9 in (23 cm) PTV providing AVOD, AC power located behind a larger tray table, a coat hook and a literature pocket that has been relocated to below the seat cushion to create more leg room. These seats are 17.5 in (44 cm) in width and have 32 in (81 cm) of pitch.[115][116]

The existing Economy Class seats each feature personal 6 in (15 cm) PTVs with a choice of 25 channels. These seats are 17 in (43 cm) in width and have 32 in (81 cm) of pitch.[116] These seats are being replaced with the New Economy Class seats on aircraft receiving the Cathay Pacific's new long-haul interior configuration.[117]

Codeshare agreements

Cathay Pacific's network is expanding rapidly with codeshare links from Oneworld hubs, such as Los Angeles International Airport with American Airlines and its affiliate, American Eagle, and London Heathrow Airport with British Airways.[118] In addition to American Airlines, American Eagle and British Airways, Cathay Pacific has codeshare agreements with Aeroflot, Air China, Air Pacific, Comair, Dragonair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas Airways and Vietnam Airlines.[119]

The airline also has a codeshare agreement with French high speed trains (SNCF) from TGV station at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport to ten French cities.[41][120]


Incidents and accidents

  • On 16 July 1948, Miss Macao, a Cathay Pacific-subsidiary-operated Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina (VR-HDT) from Macau to Hong Kong was hijacked by four men, who killed the pilot after take-off. The plane crashed in the Pearl River Delta near Zhuhai. Twenty-six people died, leaving only one survivor, who was the leader of the hijackers. This was the first hijacking of a commercial liner in the world.[81]
  • On 24 February 1949, a Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-3 (VR-HDG) from Manila to Hong Kong, crashed near Braemar Reservoir after a go-around in poor weather. All 23 people on board died.[128]
  • On 13 September 1949, a Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-3 (VR-HDW) departed from Anisakan, Myanmar, crashed on takeoff when the right hand main gear leg collapsed. Fortunately, there were no fatalities reported for the incident.[129]
  • On 23 July 1954, Cathay Pacific VR-HEU, a Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-4 (VR-HEU) from Bangkok to Hong Kong was shot down by the People's Liberation Army Air Force in the South China Sea near Hainan Island. Ten people died, leaving eight survivors. After the incident, Cathay Pacific received an apology and compensation from the People's Liberation Army Air Force. It was apparently mistaken for a Nationalist plane.[83]
  • On 5 November 1967, Cathay Pacific Flight 33 operated by a Convair 880 (VR-HFX) from Hong Kong to Saigon, over-ran the runway at Kai Tak Airport. One person was killed and the aircraft was written-off.[82]
  • On 15 June 1972, Cathay Pacific Flight 700Z operated by a Convair 880 (VR-HFZ) from Bangkok to Hong Kong, disintegrated and crashed while the aircraft was flying at 29,000 feet (8,800 m) over Pleiku, Vietnam after a bomb exploded in a suitcase placed under a seat in the cabin, killing all 81 people on board.[130]


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External links

Simple English

A Cathay Pacific plane (a Boeing 747)
Cathay City - The main office of Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is an airline from Hong Kong. It takes passenger and cargo to over 120 cities world-wide. Its main base is at Hong Kong International Airport. It is one of the six airlines in the world to get a five star rating from Skytrax. It won "Airline of the Year" award from Skytrax in 2003, 2005 and 2009. Its sister airline is Dragonair which serves destinations in China and Asia.


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