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TORONTO — Cathay Pacific is marking 25 years of nonstop flights between Toronto and Hong Kong with the introduction of the new A350-1000 to the route, starting this Sunday, October 27.
On June 9, 1994 Cathay Pacific was the first airline to offer the fastest same-plane service with its three-times weekly B747-400 flights between Toronto and Hong Kong, with a technical stopover in Anchorage.
An industry event this week at the AGO’s Walker Court, hosted by Cathay’s Senior Vice President Americas, Philippe Lacamp, underscored the importance of the 25 year milestone.
The event also marked Cathay Pacific’s longstanding commitment to connecting Toronto travellers with over 30 destinations throughout Asia.
“We are excited to offer Canadian travellers the latest in aviation technology,” says Lacamp. “The -1000 is very similar to the -900 in terms of its operational excellence, impressive range, remarkable fuel efficiency and quiet cabin environment.”
The largest variant in the A350 family, Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000s will carry a total of 334 passengers and will feature a brand-new Economy Class seat with a larger, higher definition personal television, an advanced inflight entertainment system and LED mood lighting, and a cabin that is 50% quieter in perceived levels of external noise, according to the airline.
From the airline’s base in Hong Kong, the combined network of Cathay Pacific and sister airline Cathay Dragon connects passengers to points in Asia and beyond. Of special interest to the Canadian market are Thailand, Bali and Vietnam. Connections south to Australia are also popular.
Cathay’s onboard Service Straight from the Heart is available from Toronto to Hong Kong, as well as from Vancouver to Hong Kong (Business, Premium Economy, Economy).
The A350-1000 offers enhanced inflight entertainment offerings including live sports.
At HKG, Cathay Pacific Business and First Class passengers and eligible Marco Polo and oneworld members will find Cathay Pacific’s array of lounges. At Hong Kong International Airport, travellers can experience The Wing, The Pier, The Deck and The Bridge. The Pier Business Class Lounge is home to The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga.
Cathay is also emphasizing sustainability in the sky, from its recycling program to investing in sustainable biofuel research and development, the first airline to do so.
Travelweek caught up with Cathay Pacific recently for a quick Q&A.
Travelweek: Cathay Pacific has enjoyed great success out of Canada. What Canadian gateways does the airline fly out of, and with what sort of frequencies?
CX: “Cathay Pacific offers 14 flights weekly nonstop between Vancouver and Hong Kong, 10 flights weekly nonstop from Toronto to Hong Kong and a daily non-stop service between Vancouver and New York (JFK).”
Travelweek: These are challenging times for travel agents selling Hong Kong. Just about everyone who sells Hong Kong has seen a decrease in sales. What impact has the situation had on Cathay Pacific vis-a-vis the Canadian market?
CX: “For the Canadian market, our flown revenue until mid-September was actually up compared with 2018 YTD. This was likely due to very competitive fares in all cabins and our loyal customer base.
“Our forward loads are now starting to show some sensitivity to the challenging situation in Hong Kong but in the last two weeks we’ve started to see some positive signs in the market.
“It has been a difficult few months for Cathay Pacific and our travel agency partners, particularly those who focus on Hong Kong but we are hopeful that we will start to see a return to more regular passenger numbers over the next few months.”
Travelweek: What should agents be telling their clients who want to visit Hong Kong, but are unsure?
CX: “Our investments in new aircraft and enhancing the customer experience will continue, giving travellers more reasons to fly with us. Customers can look forward to the imminent launch of new First Class and Business Class cabin products as well as a brand new dining proposition to be rolled out in our Economy cabins. Of course, already in place on all cabins on long-haul flights is a greatly expanded inflight entertainment offering and the new A350-1000 features live coverage of the best sporting events in partnership with channel Sport 24, including the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the Hong Kong Sevens next year. This significantly enriched inflight offering epitomizes Cathay Pacific’s efforts to enhance the customer experience as it continues to fulfil its ‘Move Beyond’ brand promises.
“2019 marks the 25th year that Cathay Pacific has flown nonstop between the hub cities of Hong Kong and Toronto, connecting Canadian travellers with over 30 destinations throughout Asia, and the airline’s award-winning Service Straight from the Heart philosophy. To celebrate, the airline will introduce the new A350-1000 to the route, starting on Sunday October 27, 2019. The largest variant in the A350 family, Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000s will carry a total of 334 passengers across its Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class cabins, 54 more passengers more than the airline’s A350-900s.
“We hope the addition of the A350-1000 to Cathay Pacific’s fleet will encourage Canadians to explore further, opening up new destinations for travellers to discover from the airline’s Hong Kong hub. Through the combined network of Cathay Pacific and sister airline Cathay Dragon, Thailand’s stunning beaches and vibrant festivals, Bali’s picturesque temples and Vietnam’s staggering natural beauty are all easily accessible. Connections south to Australia are well timed providing a natural choice to explore the country’s thriving cities and countless bucket-list destinations, with Cathay Pacific ensuring the journey is one of comfort and style.”
Travelweek: Can you talk about the importance of Hong Kong as a hub for Cathay Pacific?
CX: “From Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong hub, the airline offers seamless connections to an extensive Asian network, including over 22 cities in Mainland China (operated by sister airline, Cathay Dragon).
“Operations within Hong Kong International Airport remain normal and Cathay Pacific continues to provide seamless connections between Canada and Asian destinations.
“From a Canadian market perspective, passengers between Canada and Hong Kong represent approximately 30-40% of our travellers depending on the time of year. So Hong Kong is our key market but far from our only destination for travellers.
“The majority of our passengers transit through Hong Kong and travel via our extensive route network to other destinations throughout Asia including India, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines.”