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Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific

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Founded 24 September 1946 (1946-09-24)
Hubs Hong Kong International Airport
Focus cities
  • Suvarnabhumi Airport
  • Frequent-flyer program
    • Asia Miles
    • The Marco Polo Club
    Airport lounge
    • The Bridge
    • The Arrival
    • The Pier
    • The Wing
    • The Cabin
    • G16 Lounge
    Alliance Oneworld
    Fleet size 178 incl. cargo and Dragonair [1]
    Destinations 177 in 40 countries and territories incl. cargo[1]
    Company slogan Life Well Travelled
    Parent company Swire Pacific
    Headquarters Registered office: One Pacific Place, Hong Kong
    Head office: Cathay City, Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong
    Key people
    • John Slosar (Chairman)
    • Ivan Chu (CEO)
    • Rupert Hogg (COO)
    Revenue 11px HK$ 98,406 million (2011)
    Operating income 11px HK$ 5,263 million (2011)
    Net income 11px HK$ 5,501 million (2011)
    Employees 22,500 (Feb 2015, Cathay Pacific Airways), 32,900 (Feb 2015, incl. subsidiaries)[2]
    Cathay Pacific Airways Limited
    Traditional Chinese 國泰航空公司
    Simplified Chinese 国泰航空公司

    Cathay Pacific (Chinese: 國泰航空) (Template:Sehk) is the flag carrier airline of Hong Kong,[citation needed] with its head office and main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline's operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 168 destinations in 42 countries worldwide, codeshares, and joint ventures, with a fleet of wide-body aircraft, consisting of Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 equipment. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Dragonair, operates to 44 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region from its Hong Kong base. In 2010, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair carried nearly 27 million passengers and over 1.8 million tonnes of cargo and mail.

    The airline was founded on 24 September 1946 by Australian Sydney H. de Kantzow and American Roy C. Farrell, with each man putting up HK$1 to register the airline. The airline made the world's first non-stop transpolar flight flying over the North Pole in July 1998, which was also the maiden flight to arrive at then time, the new Hong Kong International Airport. The airline celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006; and as of October 2009, its major shareholders are Swire Pacific and Air China. It is reciprocally one of the major shareholders of Air China. Cathay Pacific currently holds the title of the world's third largest airline, measured in terms of market capitalisation, according to the International Air Transport Association.[3] In 2010, Cathay Pacific became the world's largest international cargo airline, along with main hub Hong Kong International Airport as the world's busiest airport in terms of cargo traffic.[4]

    Cathay Pacific is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, with its subsidiary, Dragonair, as an affiliate member.

    Cathay Pacific was awarded Skytrax's 2014 Airline of the Year.[5] Cathay Pacific has won the "World's Best Airline" award four times, more than any other airline.


    1940s and 1950s: The early years

    File:Cathay Pacific VR-HDB 1.jpg
    "Betsy", a DC-3, the first aircraft of Cathay Pacific, in Hong Kong Science Museum.
    Niki, a DC-3 painted to imitate the appearance of the carrier's second aircraft, outside Cathay City

    Cathay Pacific was founded in Shanghai on 24 September 1946 by Australian Sydney de Kantzow and American Roy Farrell.[6] Both men were ex-air force pilots who had flown the Hump, a route over the Himalayan mountains.[7] Each man put up HK$1 to register the airline.[8] Although initially based in Shanghai, the two men moved to Hong Kong where they formally began Cathay Pacific.[6] They named it Cathay, the ancient name given to China, and Pacific because Farrell speculated that they would one day fly across the Pacific (which happened in the 1970s). The Chinese name for the company "國泰" comes from a Chinese idiom meaning "grand and peaceful state".[9]

    According to legend, the airline's unique name was conceived by Farrell and some foreign correspondents at the bar of the Manila Hotel.[6] On Cathay Pacific's maiden voyage, Farrell and de Kantzow flew from Hong Kong to Manila, and later on to Shanghai.[10] 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.[6]

    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.[8] The new company began operations on 1 July 1948 and was registered as Cathay Pacific (1948) Ltd on 18 October 1948.[11] Swire later acquired 52% of Cathay Pacific and today the airline is still 45% owned by the Swire Group through Swire Pacific Limited.[12]

    1960s, 1970s, and 1980s: Expansion

    The airline prospered in late 1950s and into the 1960s by buying its archrival, Hong Kong Airways, on 1 July 1959.[13] 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.[6] In 1964, it carried its one millionth passenger and acquired its first jet engine aircraft Convair 880 in 1964.[7][14] 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, with the first flight on 16 July. 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.[14] On 15 May 1986, the airline went public and was listed in the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.[15]

    1990s: Rebranding, renewal, and Oneworld

    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.[16][17] During the early 1990s, the airline launched a programme to upgrade its passenger service. The green and white striped livery was replaced with the current "brushwing" livery.[18] In 1994 the airline invested in a new corporate identity, with a 23 million Hong Kong dollar (RM 7.3 million) program to update its image. The fleet was expected to have the new logo within four years.[19]

    File:Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 Spijkers.jpg
    A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 in old livery without the Union Flag taking off from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in 1996. This was prior to the 1997 Handover.

    The airline began a US$9 billion fleet replacement program during the mid-1990s that gave it one of the youngest fleets in the world.[18] 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.[7]

    On 1 July 1997, the 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 with a registration beginning with "VR". Under the terms of an agreement within the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG), all registrations were changed by December 1997 to the prefix "B" used by the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).[20] Cathay Pacific aircraft formerly carried a painted UK Union Flag on the tail, but these were removed several years before the 1997 takeover.[21][22]

    On 21 May 1998, Cathay Pacific took the first delivery of the Boeing 777-300 at a ceremony in Everett.[23] In 21 September 1998, Cathay Pacific, together with American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, and Qantas, co-founded the Oneworld airline alliance.[24] The airline was hurt by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, but recorded a record HK$5 billion profit in 2000.[25]

    New Hong Kong International Airport and transpolar flights

    On Monday, 6 July 1998, at 00:00 HKT, Kai Tak International Airport saw its last commercial departure, 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 Paul Horsting, was the first arrival to the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong. Also on board were Captain Mike Lowes and First Officer Kelvin Ma.[26] This flight was also the world's first nonstop transpolar flight from New York to Hong Kong. The flight, dubbed Polar One, takes about 16 hours between Hong Kong and New York Kennedy, saving about three to four hours compared to the one stop flight via Vancouver. It is Cathay Pacific's longest nonstop flight, and one of the longest in the world at Script error: No such module "convert"..[27]

    2000s: Industrial troubles and acquisitions

    Cathay Pacific operated three A340-600s from 2002 to 2008

    The 2000s saw Cathay Pacific experience labour relations issues, while completing the acquisition of Dragonair.

    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 was the launch customer in Asia for the A340-600 and the aircraft was the first of three leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).[28] On 1 December 2005, Cathay Pacific ordered 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 on the same day, with the delivery of the aircraft scheduled for 2008.[29][30][31] On 7 August 2007, Cathay Pacific ordered 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.[32]

    The 49ers – employment dispute

    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 to call 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.[33]

    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.[34]

    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.

    On 24 December 2010, judges Frank Stock, Susan Kwan, and Johnson Lam of the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment of the lower court to the extent that the claim for wrongful termination of contract was dismissed. The finding that Cathay Pacific wrongly sacked the 18 pilots for their union activities was upheld. The court upheld the defamation claim, but reduced the damages for the defamatory comments made by Cathay Pacific management. The judges also modified the judgment awarding payment of legal costs to the pilots and instead said that they should now pay some of Cathay’s costs.[35]

    The pilots were awarded leave on 26 October 2011 to take their case to the Court of Final Appeal. The matter was heard before Hon. Mr. Justices Bokhary, Chan, & Ribeiro who are all Permanent Judges of the Court of Final Appeal. The matters to be decided upon by the Court will concern wrongful termination of contract and the level of damages for defamation. The case was heard by the Court of Final Appeal on 27 August 2012.

    On 26 September 2012, 11 years after they were sacked, the 49ers were finally judged[36] to have won the 3 prime issues of their legal case: breach of contract, breach of the Employment Ordinance, and defamation. The Court of Final Appeal agreed with the Court of Appeal's methodology for reducing the defamation damages. However, it reinstated one month's salary for each of the 49ers.

    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. Acquiring Dragonair 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.[12][37][38]

    File:Dragon Air A320-200.JPG
    A Dragonair Airbus A320-200

    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.[39] It had also acquired three Airbus A330-300 aircraft to commence services to Sydney and Seoul.[40]

    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, with the exception of Dragonair Pilots and Cabin Crew 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.[41]

    There has been speculation that Dragonair will cease as a brand and be fully absorbed into Cathay Pacific.[38]

    Economic challenges

    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.[42]

    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.[43][44]

    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.[45]

    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 money.[46] 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 from Hong Kong.[47]

    2010s: Current developments

    In 2010, the airline set another record high profit, amounting to HK$14.048 billion despite record losses set in the same decade. At the same time, Cathay Pacific had taken delivery of several new aircraft types, including the Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER.[48] Tony Tyler left his position as CEO at the airline on 31 March 2010 to pursue his new job at the IATA. Chief operating officer John Slosar had succeeded Tony Tyler as the new CEO.[49] In addition, New Zealand's Commerce Commission had dropped charges against Cathay Pacific concerning the air cargo price fixing agreements.[50] In 2014, the airline underwent the largest network expansion in recent years which included the addition of links to Manchester, Zurich and Boston.

    Corporate affairs and identity

    Cathay Pacific's head office, Cathay Pacific City, is located at Hong Kong International Airport, although the airline's registered office is on the 33rd floor of One Pacific Place.[51][52] Cathay Pacific City was scheduled to be built in increments between April and September 1998.[53] The headquarters opened in 1998.[54] Previously the airline's headquarters were at the Swire House, which was a complex in Central named after the airline's parent company.[55]

    Subsidiaries and associates

    Cathay Pacific has diversified into related industries and sectors, including ground handling, aviation engineering, inflight catering.[56]

    Companies with major Cathay Pacific Group stake include:

    Company Type Principal activities Incorporated in Group's Equity Shareholding
    (10 March 2010)
    Air China Corporate Airline China 20.13%
    Air China Cargo Joint Venture Cargo airline China 49%
    Air Hong Kong Joint Venture Cargo airline Hong Kong 60%
    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%
    Cathay Pacific Services Limited Subsidiary Cargo Hong Kong 100%
    Cathay Pacific Holidays Subsidiary Travel agency Hong Kong 100%
    Dragonair Holidays Subsidiary Travel agency Hong Kong 100%
    Hong Kong Airport Services Subsidiary Ground handling Hong Kong 100%
    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%


    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". It was followed by an advertising campaign. "Great Service. Great People. Great Fares."[57] In 2011, Cathay Pacific rolled out "People. They make an airline." And in 2015, "Life Well Travelled" has become their latest motto,[58] as well as the motto for it's subsidiary Dragonair . It was accompanied by a supplementary website "Meet the Team", which introduced some of the staff through profiles. The flash site revealed many behind-the-scenes stories many of which contain inspiring facts about their career life.[59]


    All Cathay Pacific aircraft carry the following livery, logos and trademarks: the "brushwing" livery on the body and on the vertical stabiliser, 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.[60][61][62]

    The brushwing logo consists of a calligraphic stroke against a green background; the stroke is intended to appear like the wing of a bird. The previous logo, consisting of green and white stripes, was in place from the early 1970s until 1994.[19]

    Prior to 1997, all Cathay Pacific aircraft carried the British flag on the empennage. After the handover, aircraft carry the Brand Hong Kong logo and with HONG KONG or in Chinese 香港 under or beside the Brand Hong Kong logo instead of using the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) flag. In fact, the HKSAR flag has never appeared on any aircraft.

    In October 2014, Cathay Pacific modified their brushwing logo from 1994 to a newer, lighter version. The livery on aircraft, however, will keep its look but it may change in future years.


    Further information: Cathay Pacific destinations
    Cathay Pacific destinations.
      China (passenger flight mainly served by Dragonair, except Beijing and Shanghai)
      Cathay Pacific passenger and cargo destinations

    Cathay Pacific serves 168 destinations in 42 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.[63]

    Codeshare agreements

    Cathay Pacific has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[64][65][66]

    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.[63][69]



    Cathay Pacific operates four-class configurations on all of its Boeing 747-400 and most Boeing 777-300ER fleet, three-class configurations on remaining Boeing 777-300ER, all Airbus A340-300 and all long-haul Airbus A330-300 aircraft, and two-class configurations on all regional-configured aircraft. The Boeing customer code for Cathay Pacific is 67 (e.g. 777-367ER). As of May 2015, the Cathay Pacific passenger fleet comprises the following aircraft:[70][71]

    Cathay Pacific Passenger Fleet
    Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
    F J W Y Total
    Airbus A330-300 43 16 42 265 307 Regional cabin
    14 39 21 191 251
    9 39 28 175 242
    4 39 223 262
    Airbus A340-300 8 26 28 211 265 In the process of being retired
    Replacement aircraft: Airbus A350-900
    Airbus A350-900 22 38 28 214 280 Replacing Boeing 777-200 and Airbus A340-300
    The first aircraft will be delivered in Feb 2016 [72]
    Airbus A350-1000 26 TBA
    Boeing 747-400 3 9 46 26 278 359 In the process of being retired
    Boeing 777-200 5 42 294 336 Regional cabin
    Boeing 777-300 12 42 356 398 Regional cabin
    Launch customer for the type
    Boeing 777-300ER 51 18 2 40 32 268 340 Replacing Boeing 747-400
    33 6 53 34 182 275
    Boeing 777-9X 21 <center>TBA Deliveries 2021 - 2024[73]
    First Asian 777X customer[74]
    Total 122 71

    Fleet Gallery

    Special colour schemes

    Passenger fleet plans

    On 8 November 2007, Cathay Pacific ordered seven additional Boeing 777-300ERs and 10 747-8F freighters with a list price of US$5.2 billion.[75] In addition, it 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.[76] On 6 December 2007, the airline, already the biggest operator of the Airbus A330, 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, the new aircraft took Cathay Pacific Group's fleet size to 200 by 2012. From those 200 aircraft, the airline operates 155 itself, and the rest are used by its subsidiaries.[77]

    The airline's CEO, Tony Tyler, stated on 30 October 2007 that the carrier had no plans regarding the purchase of either the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A380 for the time being.[78] On 8 June 2010, the carrier entered talks with both Boeing and Airbus about adding the 787 Dreamliner and/or the Airbus A350 to their fleet, with Tyler reported to have said that the airline was more interested in acquiring smaller, long-range jets that are better suited for carrying cargo, than it is in acquiring either the Boeing 747-8 or the Airbus A380. The twinjet aircraft would allow Cathay Pacific to both add new destinations to its network, and to replace those 747-400s and A340-300s that currently operate on its long-haul routes alongside 777-300ERs.[79] The carrier remained open on a potential purchase of the B747-8 and A380 for long-haul and ultra long-haul routes to Australia, the US and Europe. "Airbus and Boeing have been talking to us, and we will study both the A380 and the 747-8 Intercontinental next year (2012)," Cathay Pacific chief executive John Slosar told flightglobal Pro.[80]

    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 747-8 freighters was pushed back to 2010 amid delays at the planemaker.[45] The delivery positions on new A330-300 and 777-300ER aircraft were deferred due to the economic recession. Cathay Pacific also sent four A340-300 and two 747-400 aircraft to Victorville Airport for storage.[81]

    On 4 August 2010, it was confirmed that Cathay Pacific would buy 30 A350-900s and six more 777-300ERs.[82] On 8 March 2011, it was reported that the airline had ordered another 15 A330-300s and 10 777-300ERs. The deal also included two more A350-900s, to be leased from ILFC.[83] On 10 August 2011, Cathay Pacific entered into an agreement with Boeing to purchase four 777-300ER passenger aircraft and eight Boeing 777F Freighters.[84] On 20 January 2012, it was confirmed that Cathay Pacific would buy another six A350-900s.[85] At the 2012 Farnborough Airshow, it was confirmed that Cathay would order 10 A350-1000s and convert 16 A350-900s to the bigger −1000.[86]

    Cathay Pacific launched Premium Economy Class on its new 777-300ERs in March 2012. The aircraft feature 40 Business Class, 32 Premium Economy Class and 268 Economy Class seats with the absence of a First Class cabin.[87] Premium Economy Class service on its new A330-300s was available from March 2012; the aircraft are configured with 38 Business Class, 28 Premium Economy Class and 175 Economy Class seats.[88] Premium Economy Class will also be offered on 4-class 777-300ERs and 747-400s from summer 2012.[89][90][91] On 20 December 2013, the airline placed an order for 21 Boeing 777-9X aircraft at a listed price of HK$58 billion.


    File:Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-867F B-LJC.jpg
    A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8 taxis at John F. Kennedy International Airport. This plane is the 100th Boeing plane ordered by the airline.

    Cathay Pacific Cargo operates a fleet of over 20 freighters to more than 40 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–Frankfurt–London service operated jointly with Lufthansa.[92] The cargo division ranked fifth in the freight category of the 2008 The World's Top 25 Airlines by Air Transport World.[93] Cathay Pacific Cargo handles most of the airlines' passenger cargo. Together with its cargo routes, it serves more than 80 destinations and is able to operate to destinations that are not in the Cathay Pacific passenger network.

    Cathay Pacific Cargo fleet (as of December 2013)[70]
    Aircraft In Service Orders
    Boeing 747-400F 5
    Boeing 747-400ERF 6
    Boeing 747-8F 13 1[94]
    Total 24 1

    Cargo fleet notes

    On 5 October 2005, the airline took delivery of its first Boeing 747-400 Boeing Converted Freighter (Boeing 747-400BCF) aircraft that was converted from passenger configuration to a freighter in Xiamen, China. Cathay Pacific Cargo is the launch customer for this aircraft model and it was also the first time Boeing had conducted a major flight test programme outside the United States.[95] On 22 June 2006, the airline ordered six Boeing 747-400ERF freighters, delivered in 2008 and 2009.[96] On 31 October 2011, Cathay Pacific took delivery of its first Boeing 747-8F.[97] Eighteen months after the first delivery, the airline ordered an additional three 747-8F in lieu of the eight 777-200F originally ordered. As part of the agreement, Boeing will re-acquire four 747-400BCF from Cathay Pacific group as well.[98]

    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), to 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.[99] 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.[100] Architecture firm Aedas is designing Cargo Terminal[101]

    Special liveries

    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/home), 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.[102] 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.[103][104][105] On 30 July 2013, Spirit of Hong Kong made another return, this time, on a Boeing 777-300ER (B-KPB). The livery features 110 people who represent the extraordinary spirit of Hong Kong people. The livery also has the wordings "The Spirit of Hong Kong 香港精神號" The livery is actually an online contest held by Cathay Pacific to call on Hong Kong people to submit creative entries that illustrate the true spirit of the city – along with a full-body photograph of themselves. The judging panel then chose 100 winners and 10 champions – and their silhouettes have been painted on the plane.[106][107]

    File:Progress Hong Kong 1a IMG 1286.JPG
    Airbus A330-300 fuselage livery. This aircraft was named Progress Hong Kong.

    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.[108] In January 2008, a new Boeing 777-300ER (B-KPF) was painted in the Asia's world city livery.[109]

    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 wording "100th aircraft", and the traditional Chinese wording "進步精神" painted on the rear of the aircraft.[110] The aircraft was named Progress Hong Kong, a name that was chosen from a competition by the staff.[110][111]

    In November 2011, Cathay received its second 747-8 Freighter (B-LJA) which was painted in the Hong Kong Trader livery. The livery was designed to commemorate the topping out of the new Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal. The name of the livery is taken from Cathay Pacific’s very first 747 freighter which entered the fleet in 1982.

    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.[112][113][114]

    Fleet History

    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 refurbished 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 City.[115]

    Cathay Pacific Retired Fleet[116] [117] [118] [119]
    Aircraft Year Retired Notes
    Airbus A340-200 1996 Leased from Philippine Airlines before delivery of A340-300
    Airbus A340-600 2009 Leased from ILFC
    Avro Anson 1950 Two operated for the Burmese government[citation needed]
    Boeing 707-320B 1983
    Boeing 747-200B 1997/2009 Some were converted to freighter. All 747-200s retired in 2009.
    Boeing 747-300 2002 Five leased to Pakistan International Airlines from July 2002
    Bristol Britannia Leased from BOAC for a few months whilst the Electras were taken out of service due to defects
    Consolidated PBY Catalina 1948 Two used for a few months in a joint venture in Macau Air Transport Company[120]
    Convair 880 1975 First jet aircraft type operated by the airline.
    Douglas DC-3 1961
    Douglas DC-4 1963
    Douglas DC-6B 1962
    Lockheed L-1011-100 TriStar 1997 Largest operator of the type outside the United States in late 1980s and early 1990s[121]
    Lockheed L-188 Electra 1967

    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.[122]

    Marco Polo Club

    File:CX Marco Polo Logo.png
    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 or €35 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.[122][123]


    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.[124]


    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, Script error: No such module "convert". 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.[124][125]

    File:CX The Wing Long Bar.jpg
    The Wing, Cathay Pacific's flagship airline lounge at Hong Kong International Airport

    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, Script error: No such module "convert". 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.[124]


    The second 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, Script error: No such module "convert". 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.[124]

    Diamond Plus

    The highest tier in the Marco Polo Club. Diamond Plus tier level offered annually to the top one percent of Diamond members worldwide "in recognition of their exceptional and consistent travel performance and their contribution to Cathay Pacific and Dragonair. Diamond Plus and Diamond members are "considered in the same tier in every aspect". However, Diamond Plus get extra perks consisting of "Nomination of one companion to the Diamond tier", and "access to CX First Class lounges regardless which airline they are flying". Marco Polo Club Diamond Plus tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Emerald tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Emerald benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[126]

    Asia Miles

    Asia Miles was named "Best Frequent Flyer Programme" at the 2011 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards ceremony.[127] Members can earn Asia Miles with more than 500 partners in 9 categories: Airlines, Hotels, Finance & Insurance, Dining & Banquets, Retail, Travel & Leisure, Cars & Transport, Telecoms and Professional Services. Members can also earn miles when shopping online through iShop which offers a variety of products and brands – from books and electronics to clothing and accessories. Members can use the miles to redeem travel, electronic items, culinary delights, concert tickets and other lifestyle awards. Miles are valid for 3 years from the date of accrual. Asia Miles membership is free and open to individuals aged two or above.[128] [129]


    Ground handling

    File:Self Check-In Kiosks at the Hong Kong International Airport.jpg
    Self-check-in kiosks at Hong Kong International Airport

    Beginning in 2007, Cathay Pacific launched more methods to check in for flights. Among them were self-check-in using a kiosk at Hong Kong International Airport and other select destinations and checking in via a mobile phone. Worldwide, only a limited number[clarification needed] of other airlines offer these options. Cathay Pacific also launched the airline's first ever mobile boarding pass application, dubbed CX Mobile. Passengers can use the application to check flight arrivals and departures, check in for their flights, and read about the destinations they are flying to using City Guides. CX Mobile has become a hit with passengers, making Cathay Pacific one of the industry leaders in offering mobile services to users of smart phones.[130][131][132]

    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.[citation needed] The airline now utilises a range of social media tools including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and blogging to share ideas with customers.[133] In addition, it has launched a virtual tour to enable passengers to experience Cathay Pacific's new cabins and services without having to step aboard the aircraft.[134]

    As of 4 January 2011, the cargo division of the airline, Cathay Pacific Cargo, has become the first airline operating out of Hong Kong to fully switch to e-air waybill. This eliminates the need for all paper documents when issuing air waybills. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) selected nine countries and territories and airlines in which to run the e-AWB pilot programme, including Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific.[135]


    Cathay Pacific has been phasing in new cabin interiors and in-flight entertainment since June 2011. The first aircraft with the new seats is an Airbus A330-300 registered B-LAN, which flew its first commercial flight as Cathay Pacific Flight 101 between Hong Kong and Sydney on 1 April 2012.

    First class

    File:CX First Class Suites 747 nose.jpg
    Cathay Pacific first class on the Boeing 747-400

    The first-class seats can be converted into fully lie-flat beds measuring Script error: No such module "convert".. The seats include a massage function, a personal closet, an ottoman for stowage or guest seating, and adjustable Script error: No such module "convert"., 16:9 personal televisions (PTV).[136][137][138]

    Business class

    File:Cathay Pacific 77W business class seat.JPG
    A business class seat on board the Boeing 777-300ER

    After receiving extensive criticism for its high-walled herring-bone configuration business class seating on long-haul flights, which many passengers felt was too narrow and confined, Cathay Pacific embarked on a total redesign of business class seating. The new design is more conventional, emphasising the passenger's sense of personal space while also retaining privacy.

    The new business class seats will be fitted into all new Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER deliveries, with existing A330-300 and 777-300ER aircraft to be upgraded to the new seating and cabin by February 2013.[139] However, the Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-300 aircraft will not be upgraded to the new seating and cabin due to the impending retirement of those planes; instead they will see a refresh of the old herringbone product. The new business class seats emphasise personal space and are equipped with a Script error: No such module "convert". PTV with AVOD.

    The new 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 Script error: No such module "convert". width and recline to Script error: No such module "convert". of pitch and feature electrical recline and leg rest. A Script error: No such module "convert". PTV is located in the seatback offers AVOD.[140][141][142]

    Premium Economy class

    Cathay Pacific has been introducing a Premium Economy Class from March 2012.[87] The seat pitch will be 38 inches – six inches more than Economy Class – and the seat itself will be wider and have a bigger recline. It will have a large meal table, cocktail table, footrest, a 10.6-inch personal television, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices, and extra personal stowage space.The Premium Economy Class seat offers a higher level of comfort with more living space in a separate cabin before the Economy Class zone. Passengers will also receive an "environmentally friendly" amenity kit with dental kit, socks and eyeshade for use during the journey. Larger pillows and noise-cancelling headsets will be provided. The new Premium Economy cabin will be installed on most Cathay Pacific long-haul aircraft. The first Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330-300 featuring Premium Economy Class has entered into service in March (substituting for regional aircraft) and scheduled service in April.

    Starting in October 2012, the airline collaborated with Hong Kong lifestyle store G.O.D. and introduced a new range of amenity kits for premium economy passengers. They are designed as collectibles with each bag being able to hook up to each other to form a wall-hanging accessory. The first two available are 'Joy' and 'Fortune, with designs that depicts Chinese gods relaxing in flight and of auspicious clouds respectively. The two types are available on outbound and inbound flights respectively. They include 90% recycled plastic bottles and toothbrush made mainly from biodegradable corn starch and cellulose.[143][144]

    Economy class

    File:B-KPL Economy Class CX391 (20140206153106).JPG
    New Economy Class cabin on a Boeing 777-300ER
    File:Cathay Pacific Economy clamshells.jpg
    Old Economy Class seats with fixed shell design and StudioCX screens

    Cathay Pacific has been introducing a new economy class from March 2012. They have a six-inch recline (two inches over the current long-haul economy seat). These seats are Script error: No such module "convert". in width and have Script error: No such module "convert". of pitch.[145][146]

    The old Economy Class seats, offered on aircraft outfitted with the refurbished long-haul interiors, were designed by B/E Aerospace and introduced in July 2008.[147] These seats include a fixed back design (shell) that allows passengers to recline without intruding on those seated behind, a Script error: No such module "convert". 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. The fixed shell of these seats has been criticised.[148] The previous Economy Class seats each feature Script error: No such module "convert". PTVs with a choice of 25 channels. These seats are Script error: No such module "convert". in width and have Script error: No such module "convert". of pitch. These seats are being replaced with the New Economy Class seats on aircraft receiving the Cathay Pacific's new long-haul interior configuration.[149]

    In-flight entertainment

    StudioCX, Cathay Pacific's in-flight entertainment system, equipped with personal televisions (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 of 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.[150]

    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.[151] Panasonic's eX2 system is installed on aircraft, and is available on all aircraft.[152]


    File:CX First Class course.jpg
    Cathay Pacific First Class fruit and cheese course

    Food and beverages are complimentary for all long-haul passengers, with two hot meals generally served on each flight even in economy, and with free alcoholic beverages.[153] Foods served on flights from Hong Kong are provided by Cathay Pacific Catering Services (CPCS) facilities in Hong Kong.[154] CLS Catering Services Limited, a joint venture with LSG Sky Chefs, provides the inflight catering from Toronto and Vancouver airports;[155][156] while Vietnam Air Caterers, a joint venture between CPCS and Vietnam Airlines, provides the inflight catering for flights from Ho Chi Minh City.[157]

    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 aircraft crashed in the Pearl River Delta near Zhuhai. Twenty-six people died, leaving only one survivor, a hijacker. This was the first hijacking of a commercial airliner in the world.[158]
    • 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.[159]
    • On 13 September 1949, a Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-3 (VR-HDW) departing from Anisakan, Burma, crashed on take-off when the right hand main gear leg collapsed. There were no reported fatalities.[160]
    • On 23 July 1954, a Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-4 (VR-HEU) from Bangkok to Hong Kong was shot down by aircraft of the People's Liberation Army Air Force in the South China Sea near Hainan Island. Ten people died, leaving nine 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 Chinese military aircraft.[161]
    • On 18 September 1963, Cathay Pacific Flight 34 overran the runway at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, causing 3 deaths, including one crew member. The aircraft was written-off.[citation needed]
    • On 5 November 1967, Cathay Pacific Flight 33, operated by a Convair 880 (VR-HFX) from Hong Kong to Saigon, overran the runway at Kai Tak Airport. One person was killed and the aircraft was written-off.[162]
    • 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 Script error: No such module "convert". over Pleiku, Vietnam after a bomb exploded in a suitcase placed under a seat in the cabin, killing all 81 people on board.[163]
    • On 13 April 2010, Cathay Pacific Flight 780, an Airbus A330-342 from Surabaya Juanda International Airport to Hong Kong landed safely after both engines failed due to contaminated fuel. 57 passengers were injured. Its two pilots received the Polaris Award from the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, for their heroism and airmanship.[164]

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