Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Airways
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 24 September 1946 (1946-09-24)
Hubs Hong Kong International Airport
Secondary hubs Taoyuan International Airport
Frequent-flyer program
  • Asia Miles
  • The Marco Polo Club
Alliance Oneworld
Fleet size 146
Destinations 77
Company slogan Life Well Travelled
Parent company Swire
Traded as SEHK: 293
Headquarters Cathay City, Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong[1]
Key people
Revenue HK$97.284 billion (2017)[2]
Operating income HK$-580 million (2017)
Net income −HK$888 million (2017)
Employees 22,700 (2017, Cathay Pacific), 32,700 (2017, incl. subsidiaries)[2]
Cathay Pacific Airways Limited
Traditional Chinese 國泰航空有限公司
Simplified Chinese 国泰航空有限公司
Cathay Pacific Airways
Traditional Chinese 國泰航空
Simplified Chinese 国泰航空
Cantonese Yale Gwoktaai Hòhnghūng
Second alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 國泰航空公司
Simplified Chinese 国泰航空公司
Cathay Pacific
Traditional Chinese 國泰
Simplified Chinese 国泰
Literal meaning Peaceful Country

Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, with its head office and main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline's operations and subsidiaries have scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 190[3][4] destinations in more than 60 countries worldwide including codeshares and joint ventures. Cathay Pacific operates a fleet of wide-body aircraft, consisting of Airbus A330, Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 equipment.[5] Cathay Pacific Cargo operates two models of the Boeing 747. Wholly owned subsidiary airline Cathay Dragon operates to 44 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region from its Hong Kong base. In 2010, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Pacific Cargo, together with Dragonair (rebranded Cathay Dragon), carried nearly 27 million passengers and over 1.8 million tons of cargo and mail.

The airline was founded on 24 September 1946 by Australian Sydney H. de Kantzow and American Roy C. Farrell. 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 the then 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. On 6 November 2017, Qatar Airways acquired a 9.6% shareholding of Cathay Pacific, becoming its 3rd largest shareholder.[6]

Cathay Pacific is the world's tenth largest airline measured in terms of sales, and fourteenth largest measured in terms of market capitalisation.[7] 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.[8]

It is one of the founding members of the Oneworld alliance. Cathay Pacific's subsidiary Cathay Dragon is an affiliate member of Oneworld.

Cathay Pacific is an award-winning and globally reputed airline, winning the "World's Best Airline" award four times and consistently ranking as among the best airlines in the world.[9][10]


1946–1960: The early years

Cathay Pacific Airways was founded on 24 September 1946 in Hong Kong, with Sydney "Syd" de Kantzow, Roy Farrell,[11][12][13] as well as Neil Buchanan, Donald Brittan Evans and Robert "Bob" Stanley Russell were the initial shareholders.[12] Buchanan and Russell already worked for de Kantzow and Farrell in the predecessor of Cathay Pacific, Roy Farrell Import-Export Company,[14][13][15] which was initially headquartered in Shanghai.[11][12][16] Both de Kantzow and Farrell were ex-air force pilots who had flown the Hump, a route over the Himalayan mountains.[17] Farrell purchased the airline's first aircraft, a Douglas DC-3, nicknamed Betsy, in Bush Field, New York City in 1945.[14]:29 The company began freight services on 28 January 1946 from Sydney to Shanghai, after Farrell and Russell flew the plane to Australia and obtained a license to carry freight (but not passengers) services earlier that month.[14]:36–37 Its first commercial flight was a shipment of Australian goods.[14]:37 The profitable business soon attracted attention from the Republic of China government officials.[14]:44 After several instances where the company's planes were detained by authorities in Shanghai,[14]:44 on 11 May 1946 the company relocated, flying its two planes to Hong Kong. Farrell and de Kantzow re-registered their business in Hong Kong on 24 September 1946 as "Cathay Pacific Airways Limited",[11][12] while another sister company The Roy Farrell Export Import Company (Hong Kong) Limited was incorporated on 28 August 1946[12] and chartered some flights of Cathay.[14]:58 They named the airline Cathay, the ancient name given to China, and Pacific because Farrell speculated that they would one day fly across the Pacific[14]:56 (which happened in the 1970s).[18] Moreover, to avoid the name "Air Cathay" as it was already occurred in a comic.[14]:55 The Chinese name for the company ("國泰") was not settled on until the 1950s. It comes from a Chinese idiom meaning "grand and peaceful state"[19] and was at the time often used by other businesses called "Cathay" in English.

According to legend, the airline's unique name was conceived by Farrell and some foreign correspondents at the bar of the Manila Hotel,[11][14]:55 while another narrative was the name was taken in the Cathay Hotel in Shanghai Bund, during drinking and brainstorming, and choosing Cathay was to avoid the word China in the airline name.[14]:53 25 September, on Cathay Pacific's maiden voyage, de Kantzow and Peter Hoskins flew from Sydney to Hong Kong via Manila.[14]:53 The airline initially flew routes between Hong Kong, Sydney, Manila, Singapore, Shanghai, Saigon, Bangkok,[14]:58 with additional chartered destinations.[14]:59 The airline grew quickly. By 1947, it had added another 5 DC-3s and 2 Vickers Catalina seaplane to its fleet.[14]:234

In 1948, a new legal person of Cathay Pacific Airways was incorporated,[12] which John Swire & Sons (now known as Swire Group),[12][20] China Navigation Company, Australian National Airways were the new shareholders of the new entity,[12] acquiring the assets from the old legal person;[12] the old legal person, was renamed into Cathay Pacific Holdings, as well as retaining 10% shares of the new Cathay Pacific Airways.[12] de Kantzow, Farrell and Russell were the shareholders of Cathay Pacific Holdings at that time.[12] It was reported that the colonial British government of Hong Kong, required the airline was majority owned by British. Despite de Kantzow was a British subject through his Australians root, however, Farrell was an Americans, thus forcing them to sell the majority stake.[14]:79 Under Swire's management, de Kantzow remained in the airline until 1951,[14]:123 while Farrell had sold his minority stake in Cathay Pacific soon after Swire's takeover in 1948, due to health problem of his wife. He returned to Texas and became a successful businessman.[14]:115

Swire later acquired 52% of Cathay Pacific Airways. As of 31 December 2017, the airline is still 45% owned by Swire Group through its subsidiary Swire Pacific Limited, as the largest shareholder.[21][22] However, Swire Group also formed a shareholders' agreement with the second largest shareholder Air China (which was controlled by state-owned China National Aviation Holding), which Cathay Pacific and Air China had a cross ownership.[22]:41, 104

In the late 1940s, the Hong Kong government divided the local aviation market between Cathay Pacific and its only local competitor, the Jardine Matheson-owned Hong Kong Airways:[14]:117–118 Cathay Pacific was allocated routes to the south (including South-East Asia and Australia), while Hong Kong Airways was allocated routes to the north (including mainland China, Korea and Japan). The situation changed with the establishment of the People's Republic of China and the Korean War, which reduced the viability of the northern routes. In 1959, Cathay Pacific acquired Hong Kong Airways, and became the dominant airline in Hong Kong.

Under Swire, another important sister company, HAECO, was established in 1950.[14]:130 Nowadays, it is one of the major aeroplane repair service company of Hong Kong with division in other city of China.

1960–1990: Expansion

The airline prospered in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, helped by buying its archrival, Hong Kong Airways, on 1 July 1959.[14]:118 Between 1962 and 1967, the airline recorded double digit growth on average every year and became the world's first airline to operate international services to Fukuoka, Nagoya and Osaka in Japan.[11] In 1964, it carried its one millionth passenger[23] and acquired its first jet engine aircraft, the Convair 880.[17]

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.[23]

On 15 May 1986, the airline went public and was listed in the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.[24]

1990–2000: 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.[25][26] During the early 1990s, the airline launched a program to upgrade its passenger service. The green and white striped livery was replaced with the current "brushwing" livery.[27] 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.[28]

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.[27] 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(G) and CTS, also bought substantial holdings.[17] According to 1988 edition International Directory of Company Histories, the disinvestment of 12.5% stake of Cathay Pacific by Swire Pacific, to a Chinese state-owned company, was regard "as evidence of China's sincerity in maintaining the prosperity of Hong Kong."[20]

On 1 July 1997, the administration of Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to the People's Republic of China as part of the Hong Kong handover. 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).[29] Cathay Pacific aircraft formerly carried a painted UK Union Flag on the tail, but these were removed several years before the 1997 takeover.[30][31]

On 21 May 1998, Cathay Pacific took the first delivery of the Boeing 777-300 at a ceremony in Everett.[32] On 21 September 1998, Cathay Pacific, together with American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, and Qantas, co-founded the Oneworld airline alliance.[33][34] Cathay Pacific temporarily took over Philippine Airlines's domestic and international operations during its fourteen-day shutdown (from 26 September – 7 October 1998).[35] The airline was hurt by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, but recorded a record HK$5 billion profit in 2000.[36]

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 (a Boeing 747-400) to London Heathrow Airport, after over 73 years of operation. The next day, Cathay Pacific Flight 889 (a Boeing 747-400 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.[37] 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 8,055 mi (12,963 km).[38]

2000–2010: Industrial troubles and acquisitions

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).[39] 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.[40][41][42] 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.[43]

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.[44]

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.[45]

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".[45] 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.

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 that 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 then chief operating officer Philip Chen Nanlok and current 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.

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.[46]

The leader of the 49er Plaintiffs, Captain John Warham, launched a book titled The 49ers – The True Story on 25 March 2011.[47]

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 and Ribeiro who are all Permanent Judges of the Court of Final Appeal. The matters to be decided upon by the Court concerned 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[48] 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.

Regarding breach of contract,[49] the overall picture leading to dismissal and events immediately after were analysed by the courts, not just the dismissal letter. Regarding the Employment Ordinance, an important aspect was that the judgment defined the scope of "union activities" and its protection for workers in Hong Kong. The Court concluded: "Accordingly, most (possibly all) union-sponsored action is potentially protected by s 21B(1)(b), but if the action is not carried out “at [an] appropriate time”, it is excluded from the provision". There was no challenge by Cathay Pacific to the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the original Judge’s conclusion that the statements made by Cathay Executives were defamatory of the plaintiffs.

John Warham, referring to the effect the fight has had on pilots' families, said: "In terms of human life, three people are dead because of what Cathay Pacific did to us. That's on their conscience, I hope they can live with that."[50]

Acquisition and downsizing of Dragonair

On September 28,2006, 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.[51][52][53]

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.[54] It had also acquired three Airbus A330-300 aircraft to commence services to Sydney and Seoul.[55]

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 resulted in an approximately 37 percent decrease in the number of staff contractually employed by Dragonair.

In January 2016, Cathay Pacific announced it was rebranding Dragonair as Cathay Dragon.[56]

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 staff, and view vintage uniforms. Cathay Pacific also introduced anniversary merchandise and in-flight meals served by restaurants in Hong Kong in collaboration with the celebrations.[57]

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 US were not illegal under Hong Kong competition law.[58][59]

In September 2008, three of Cathay Pacific's top ten global accounts, Lehmann Brothers, AIG and Merrill Lynch, hit financial trouble.[60]

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 US 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.[61]

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.[62] 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.[63]

2010–present: Current developments

In 2010, the airline set another record high profit, amounting to HK$14.05 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 777-300 ER.[64] 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 as the new CEO.[65] In addition, New Zealand's Commerce Commission had dropped charges against Cathay Pacific concerning the air cargo price fixing agreements.[66] In 2014, the airline underwent the largest network expansion in recent years which included the addition of links to Manchester, Zurich and Boston.

On 8 October 2016, Cathay Pacific retired their last passenger Boeing 747, a 747-400, with a farewell scenic flight around Hong Kong after over 35 years of service of the type. Cathay operated the 747 since August 1979, when it was inaugurated on services to Australia.[67]

During the first half of 2016, Cathay Pacific's passenger yields fell 10 per cent, to the lowest in seven years as competing airlines from Mainland China increased direct service to the U.S. and Europe, hurting the company's revenue from its Hong Kong hub.[68] In October, Cathay Pacific scrapped its profit forecast for the second half of the year, less than two months after its issuance.[69]

From September 15, 2016, Cathay Pacific decided to reintroduce fuel surcharge on many flights after its half-year net profits dropped over 80% and it suffered HK$4.5 billion loss from wrong bets on fuel prices.[70] As of September 2016, Oil prices were halved from 2014 and stayed below US$50 a barrel.[70]

Corporate affairs and identity

Cathay Pacific's head office, Cathay Pacific City, is located at Hong Kong International Airport.[1] Cathay Pacific City was scheduled to be built in increments between April and September 1998.[71] The headquarters opened in 1998.[72] Previously the airline's headquarters were at the Swire House, which was a complex in Central named after the airline's parent company.[73]

Subsidiaries and associates

Cathay Pacific has diversified into related industries and sectors, including ground handling, aviation engineering, inflight catering.[74]

Companies with Cathay Pacific Group stake include:

CompanyTypePrincipal activitiesIncorporated inGroup's Equity Shareholding
Air ChinaCorporateAirlineChina20%[75]
Air China CargoJoint VentureCargo airlineChina49%**[75]
AHK Air Hong Kong LimitedSubsidiaryCargo airlineHong Kong60%[75]
Airline Property LimitedSubsidiaryProperty InvestmentHong Kong100%[75]
Airline Store Property LimitedSubsidiaryProperty InvestmentHong Kong100%[75]
Asia Training Property LimitedSubsidiaryProperty InvestmentHong Kong100%[75]
Asia Miles LimitedSubsidiaryTravel RewardHong Kong100%[75]
Cathay Holidays LimitedSubsidiaryTour OperatorHong Kong100%[75]
Cathay Pacific Aero LimitedSubsidiaryFinancial ServicesHong Kong100%[75]
Cathay Pacific Aircraft Lease Finance LimitedSubsidiaryAircraft LeasingHong Kong100%[75]
Cathay Pacific Aircraft Services LimitedSubsidiaryAircraft AcquisitionIsle of Man100%[75]
Cathay Pacific Catering Services (HK) LimitedSubsidiaryCatering servicesHong Kong100%[75]
Cathay Pacific MTN Financing LimitedSubsidiaryFinancial servicesCayman Islands100%[75]
Cathay Pacific Services LimitedSubsidiaryCargoHong Kong100%[75]
Cebu Pacific Catering Services Inc. Joint Venture Airline catering Philippines 40%[75]
Dell Fresh LimitedSubsidiaryCateringHong Kong100%[75]
Ground Support Engineering Limited Joint Venture Airport ground engineering support and equipment maintenance Hong Kong 50%[75]
Global Logisticcs System HK Company Limited-Air Cargo ComputingHong Kong95%[75]
Guangzhou Guo Tai Information Processing Company LimitedSubsidiaryInformation processingChina100%[75]
HAECO ITM Ltd. Joint Venture Inventory technical management services Hong Kong 30%[75]
Hong Kong Airport Services LimitedSubsidiaryGround handlingHong Kong100%[75]
Hong Kong Aviation and Airport Services LimitedSubsidiaryPropert InvestmentHong Kong100%[75]
Hong Kong Dragon Airlines LimitedSubsidiaryAirlineHong Kong100%[75]
LSG Lufthansa Service Hong Kong Limited - Airline catering Hong Kong 32%[75]
Shanghai International Airport Services Co., Limited Joint Venture Ground handling China 25%[75]
Snowdon LimitedSubsidiaryFinancial servicesHong Kong100%[75]
Troon LimitedSubsidiaryFinancial servicesHong Kong100%[75]
Vogue Laundry Service LimitedSubsidiaryLaundry and Dry CleaningHong Kong100%[75]

**Shareholding held through subsidiary at 25%, another 24% held through an economic interest with total holding at 49%


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.[27][76][77]

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.[28]

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 November 2015, the airline revealed a refreshed version of its previous livery, featuring a simpler paint scheme while maintaining their trademark brushwing on an all-green tail.[78] Boeing 777-300ER (B-KPM) was the first aircraft to wear the new livery. The second aircraft was a freighter aircraft, Boeing 747-400ERF (B-LIA).


Cathay Pacific serves 80 destinations (including cargo), but not including codeshare in 46 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, Cathay Dragon.[79]

Codeshare agreements

Cathay Pacific has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[80]

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.[79][87]


Cathay Pacific operates an all-wide-body fleet composed of Airbus A330, Airbus A350, Boeing 747(cargo) and Boeing 777 aircraft[5]. The airline also has more Airbus A350 , Boeing 777X and 777-300 aircraft on order.

Loyalty programs

Cathay Pacific has two loyalty programs: The Marco Polo Club (The Club), the loyalty program, and Asia Miles, the travel reward program. Members of The Club are automatically enrolled as Asia Miles members.

Marco Polo Club

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$100 is applicable for a Marco Polo Club membership. Members earn Club Points on eligible fare classes with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon 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 and will be downgraded to Asia Miles member.[88][89]


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 redemption, and priority boarding. One Business Class lounge voucher will be issued for the member or their travelling companion at reaching 200 Club Points. Members are required to earn 20 Club Points or pay US$100 for membership renewal.[90]


Silver tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 300 Club Points during the membership year. Additional benefits for Silver Card members include advanced 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. At 450 Club Points, members will be issued two Business Class lounge vouchers for their travelling companions. Also, members are entitled to apply for at most three Membership Holidays in their lifetime, retaining their status for one year for each application.

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.[90][91]


Gold tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 600 Club Points during the membership year. Additional benefits for Gold Card members includes a 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 accompanying guest when flying Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Oneworld operated flights and arrival lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated and marketed flights. Two Business Class lounge vouchers will be issued for their travelling companions or members on their Asia Miles Redemption List at reaching 800 Club Points. At reaching 1000 Club Points, four Cabin Upgrade vouchers (for Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated short haul or medium haul routes) will be issued to members and their travelling companions.

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.[90]


The second highest tier in the Marco Polo Club. Diamond tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 1200 Club Points 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, one guest when flying Oneworld operated flights and Business Class lounge access with two guests when flying on any airline. At 1400 Club Points, members will be issued with two First or Business lounge vouchers for their travelling companions or members on their Asia Miles Redemption List. At 1600 Club Points, four Cabin Upgrade vouchers (for any Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated routes) will be issued to members, travelling companions and members on their Asia Miles Redemption List. At 1800 Club Points, members are able to nominate one member for Marco Polo Gold tier membership.

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.[90]

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.[92]

Asia Miles

Asia Miles was named "Best Frequent Flyer Program" at the 2011 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards ceremony.[93] 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.[94] [95]

Registered Account

Registered account allows easier booking and flight management for users. There is no fee to join. All users must have this program or the two above to use the Cathay Pacific Fanfares program.


Ground handling

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. 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.[96][97]

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. The airline now uses a range of social media tools including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and blogging to share ideas with customers.[98] 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.[99]

On 4 January 2011, the cargo division of the airline, Cathay Pacific Cargo, became 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 program, including Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific.[100]


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

The first-class seats can be converted into fully lie-flat beds measuring 36 in × 81 in (91 cm × 206 cm). The seats include a massage function, a personal closet, an ottoman for stowage or guest seating, and adjustable 17 in (43 cm), 16:9 personal televisions (PTV).[101][102][103]

Business class

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 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 21 in (53 cm) width and recline to 47 in (120 cm) of pitch and feature electrical recline and leg rest. A 12 in (30 cm) PTV is located in the seatback offers AVOD.[104][105][106]

Premium Economy class

Cathay Pacific introduced a Premium Economy Class in March 2012.[107] The seat pitch is 38 inches – six inches more than Economy Class – and the seat itself is wider and have a bigger recline. It has 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.

Starting in October 2012, the airline collaborated with Hong Kong lifestyle store GOD 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.[108][109]

Economy class

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 17.5 in (44 cm) in width and have 32 in (81 cm) of pitch.[110][111]

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.[112] 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. The fixed shell of these seats has been criticised.[113] The previous Economy Class seats each feature 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. These seats are being replaced with the New Economy Class seats on aircraft receiving the Cathay Pacific's new long-haul interior configuration.[114]Since 2017 all Boeing B777 are retrofitted from 9 abreast to 10 abreast,increasing the economy class seats onboard the -300 from 350 to 396 seats & the -300 ER from 182/ 268 seats to 201/296 seats.All new seats features new 10.1 inch touch screens; USB ports & improved seat pitch .The seat width of these seats are 17.5 inches

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 programs, 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.[115]

StudioCX provides Audio/Video on Demand (AVOD) for every passenger and offers up to 100 movies, 350 TV programs, about 1000 CD albums in 25 different genres, 25 radio channels and more than 70 interactive games.[116][117]


Food and beverages are complimentary on all flights, with two hot meals generally served on each flight for long haul flights, along with free alcoholic beverages.[118] Foods served on flights from Hong Kong are provided by Cathay Pacific Catering Services (CPCS) facilities in Hong Kong.[119] CLS Catering Services Limited, a joint venture with LSG Sky Chefs, provides the inflight catering from Toronto and Vancouver airports;[120][121] while Vietnam Air Caterers, a joint venture between CPCS and Vietnam Airlines, provides the inflight catering for flights from Ho Chi Minh City.[122]

Accidents and incidents

Cathay Pacific has had eight incidents and accidents over its history, although none have resulted in a hull loss or loss of life since 1972.

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