Cathay Pacific is one of only six airlines worldwide to carry a five-star rating from Skytrax. Cathay was named "Airline of the Year" in 2003 and 2005 by Skytrax and in 2006 by Air Transport World and OAG. The airline has been voted the second best airline in the world by Skytrax for 2008. Cathay Pacific is accredited by the IATA with the IOSA for safety practices. It is also a member of the Oneworld alliance. The company is managed by the Swire Group.
Cathay Pacific Airways was founded in Hong Kong on 24 September 1946 by American Roy Farrell and Australian Sydney de Kantzow. Both men were ex-air force pilots who had flown The Hump, a route over the Himalayan Mountains. Each man put up HK$1 to register the airline. Although initially based in Shanghai, the two men moved to Hong Kong where they formally began Cathay Pacific Airways. They named it "Cathay" because it was the Medieval name given to China, derived from "Khitan", and "Pacific" because Farrell speculated that they would one day fly across the Pacific. The Chinese name for the company comes from a Chinese idiom meaning "Grand and Peaceful State".
According to legend, the airline was conceived by Farrell and some foreign correspondents at the bar of the Manila Hotel. On Cathay Pacific's maiden voyage, Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow flew from Hong Kong to Manila, and later on to Shanghai. They had a single Douglas DC-3, nicknamed ''Betsy''. The airline initially flew routes between Hong Kong, Sydney, Manila, Singapore, Shanghai, and , while scheduled service was limited to Bangkok, Manila, and Singapore only.
In 1948 Butterfield & Swire bought 45% of Cathay Pacific, with taking 35% and Farrell and de Kantzow taking 10% each. The new company began operations on 1 July 1948 and was registered as Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd on 18 October 1948. Cathay Pacific aircraft formerly carried a painted Union Jack on the tail but these were removed several years before the 1997 takeover.
In September 1998, Cathay Pacific became a founding member of the Oneworld Alliance. In 1999, they completed their new headquarters, named Cathay City, which is located at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific was hurt by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, but recorded a record HK$5 billion profit in 2000.
The 49'ers - industrial troubles
Cathay Pacific fired 49 of its 1,500 pilots on July 9, 2001; hence, they are known as "the 49ers" . About half of the fired pilots were captains, or 5 percent of the total pilot group. But of the 21 officers of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association , 9 were fired, including four of the seven union negotiators.
"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," says Captain Nigel Demery, president of the HKAOA
A later head of the HKAOA, Captain Murray Gardner, is said to have favoured a more soft-line approach to dealing with management and indeed workplace relations between the two groups have been largely conciliatory since 2002.
Cathay offered the 49 pilots it sacked in 2001 the chance to reapply for pilot positions with its cargo division, guaranteeing such applicants first interviews, subject to passing psychometric testing. 19 former employees applied and 12 were offered jobs.
Acquisition of Dragonair
On 9 June 2006, Cathay Pacific underwent a shareholding realignment under which Dragonair became wholly owned by Cathay Pacific but continued to operate under its own brand. Air China, and its subsidiary, CNAC Limited, acquired a 17.5% stake in Cathay Pacific, and Cathay Pacific doubled its shareholding in Air China to 20%. CITIC reduced its shareholding to 17.5%, and Swire reduced its shareholding to 40%.
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. In 2007 Cathay Pacific and Dragonair carried more than 23 million passengers.
In June 2008, Cathay Pacific agreed to pay a portion of $504 million in fines levied by the U.S. Justice Department related to cargo price fixing.
*Cathay Pacific is one of 6 airlines worldwide which has been rated as a 5 star airline by Skytrax
*Cathay Pacific was named World's Best Overall Airline in 2003 and 2005 by a Skytrax survey
*Cathay Pacific is also accredited by the IATA with the IOSA for its safety practices
*The airline was also awarded with Best First Class, Best First Class Lounge , and Best Business Class Lounge by Skytrax.
*The airline was named Airline of the Year 2006 by Air Transport World magazine and by OAG.
*Cathay Pacific have been awarded Most Punctual Airline between London and Hong Kong for the third consecutive year in 2007.
* Cathay Pacific Cargo has launched daily freighter services from Hong Kong to Shanghai using Boeing 747-200F aircraft, making it the second mainland China city served after it resumed passenger services to Beijing in December 2003, after a 13 year break .
* The first flight to land at the new Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, was the Cathay Pacific flight CX889 from John F. Kennedy International Airport, USA, and flying over the North Pole, which arrived on 6 July 1998. This flight was named Polar One. The last commercial flight to leave Hong Kong's old Kai Tak Airport was the CX251 flight to London Heathrow Airport.
* Cathay Pacific operates twice daily return non-stop flights from Hong Kong to New York JFK that fly approximately over the North Pole CX830 & CX840 operate From HKG to JFK; CX831 & CX841 operate JFK to HKG. It is Cathay Pacific's longest non-stop flight, as well as one of the longest non-stop flights by distance in the world at 8055mi or 12968 km, lasting for approximately 16 hours. Continental Airlines also operates on this route, departing from Newark Liberty International Airport. In addition, Cathay Pacific operates daily return Hong Kong-Toronto non-stop flights, which are also operated via polar routes. These routes are now flown using Cathay Pacific's B777-300ERs.
* On 29 April 2007, Cathay Pacific once suspended its flights to Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo, after several attacks on the airport by a para-military group.
* During 2008, Cathay Pacific increased frequencies to India, Middle East and Australia, while cutting flights to Canada and America.
All planes of Cathay Pacific bear its logo as well as small lettering with "Asia's World City Hong Kong" on it. All planes also bear the Oneworld logo and the logo of Swire Group.
Cathay Pacific operate 115 planes, 36 of which are fitted with 3 classes of service for long-haul flights and 47 are fitted with 2 classes of service for short-haul flights and some long-haul flights. Cathay Pacific only operates wide body jets, which includes their cargo fleet of 21 freighters.
In April 2008, the average age of the Cathay Pacific fleet was 11.1 years.
On 1 December 2005, Cathay Pacific announced an order for 16 aircraft to be delivered between September 2007 and July 2010, plus options on 20 more of the type, 2 of which were converted to orders on 1 June 2006. Cathay Pacific also ordered 3 more the same day, with the delivery of the aircraft scheduled for 2008. Cathay Pacific may reach a decision regarding the issue of how the airline's future high-capacity long-haul requirements are to be fulfilled by ordering either the , Airbus A350, Boeing 787 or the Boeing 747-8. However, Cathay Pacific recently stated that they have no plans to order Airbus A380 nor Boeing 787 soon.
On 29 August 2006, Cathay Pacific 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 60th anniversary livery with a 60th anniversary sticker behind the second doors and the letters '100th aircraft' at the rear of the aircraft. The aircraft was named "Progress Hong Kong", a name that was chosen from a competition by the staff.
On 7 August 2007, Cathay Pacific Airways announced that it had placed an order for five more wide-body “Extended Range” aircraft for a total price of about US$11 billion, increasing its commitment to a total of 23 of the aircraft type. These five additional Boeing 777-300ERs will be purchased directly from the Boeing Company and will be delivered in 2011.
On 8 November 2007, Cathay Pacific announced that it had placed an order for 7 additional 777-300ERs and 10 747-8F freighters with Boeing. The airline 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. The order has a listed price of $5.2 billion US.
On 6 December 2007, Cathay Pacific placed a firm order for 8 more Airbus A330-300 aircraft valued at approximately US$1.7 billion at list prices. Together with the commitment for 17 long-haul passenger aircraft and freighters announced the previous month, the new aircraft will take the Cathay Pacific Group's fleet size to 200 by 2012. From that 200 aircraft, Cathay Pacific will operate 150 by itself, and the rest will be used by Cathay Pacific subsidiaries.
On 30 January 2008, the chief Boeing 777 pilot for Cathay Pacific, Captain Ian Wilkinson, performed a low-level flypast, reportedly with permission of the control tower, but without permission from the airline, at the Boeing Everett Factory when taking delivery of a new Boeing 777-300ER. Captain Wilkinson was dismissed for his actions. No injuries or further incident was caused.
On March 19, 2007, Hong Kong Airport Authority awarded the airline’s wholly owned subsidiary, Cathay Pacific Services Ltd , a franchise to invest in, design, construct and operate a new air cargo terminal at Hong Kong International Airport . A 20-year franchise agreement was signed between CPSL and AAHK for a common use cargo terminal. The new cargo terminal will be built in the cargo area at the airport, close to the existing cargo servicing facilities. The terminal facility will occupy a site area of approximately 10 hectares. The new cargo terminal will be operated by a separate management team in CPSL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific.
Since its conception in 1946, Cathay Pacific had operated many types of aircraft. The first two Cathay Pacific aircraft were two World War II surplus Douglas DC-3s named ''Betsy'' and ''Niki''. Betsy , which is the first aircraft for Cathay Pacific, is now a permanent exhibit in the Hong Kong Science Museum. Niki was lost, but a similar DC-3 has been purchased by Cathay Pacific. It was renovated and repainted by CX Engineering and the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company and it now wears the original Cathay Pacific colour scheme. This aircraft received "Niki"s' old VR-HDA registration and is now on public view in the car park outside the Flight Training Centre of Cathay City.
Other aircraft that have been in service with Cathay Pacific are:
* Douglas DC-3
* Avro Anson
* Consolidated PBY Catalina
* Douglas DC-4
* Douglas DC-6
* Lockheed L-188 Electra
* Bristol Britannia
* Convair 880
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cathay Pacific was the largest operator of the Lockheed TriStar outside the United States.
Food and beverages served on flights leaving Hong Kong are provided by Cathay Pacific Catering Services in facilities in Hong Kong. CLS Catering Services Limited is a joint venture with LSG Sky Chefs and offers inflight catering from airports in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. Special meals can also be ordered 24 hours before departure.
Since the early 1990s, all seats in all classes have been equipped with Personal TVs featuring Cathay's in-flight entertainment system, StudioCX. There are two versions of Studio CX:
* Economy Class and Regional Business Class feature 20 video channels and 22 audio channels running on a 2-hour cycle. The primary language of the content is English but with Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese content also always available along and other languages sometimes available, depending on the route being flown.
* For first class and long-haul business class StudioCX includes an Audio/Video On Demand system that provides a choice of 50 movies, 100 TV programmes and 120 audio CDs .
Ten interactive games are provided in all classes for flights on which AVOD is offered.
AVOD is available in all First and Business Class cabins on Boeing s, Boeing s, Airbus s and A330-300s fitted in the long-haul 2- or 3-class configurations. Passengers travelling in the new Economy Class will also have AVOD.
Panasonic's "eX2" system is being installed on aircraft with the new seat configuration, and is available on selected A330-300s, B747-400s and all B777-300ERs, and will eventually be provided on all Cathay passenger aircraft.
Cathay Pacific have been phasing in new cabin interiors and inflight entertainment since May 2007. The first aircraft with the new seats was B-HKT, a Boeing 747-400, which flew its first commercial flight with the new seats as CX 460 between Hong Kong and Taipei on 11 May 2007. At that time only the new First and Business Classes were installed; however this aircraft now has the new Economy seats, installed during June 2008. The following aircraft are confirmed to have the new seats installed in all three classes: B-HKD, B-HKE, B-HKF, B-HKT, B-HKU, B-HKV, B-HOS, B-HOT, B-HOV, B-HOX, B-HOW, B-HOY, B-HUA, B-HUD, B-HUI and B-HUG ; B-LAE, B-LAF, B-LAG and B-LAH and B-KPA to B-KPH . All Airbus aircraft with the new cabin will be in a 2-class configuration. Terrestrial AC Adapters have been newly built-in to the new seats as well and are available in all classes .
First Class Cabins
* The can be converted into a fully lie-flat bed measuring 36” x 81” . The new seats include a massage function, a personal closet, an Ottoman for stowage or guest seating, and an adjustable 17", 16:9 PTV.
* First Class seats can be converted into fully lie-flat beds measuring 22" x 79" and feature a 10.4" PTV, privacy screens and center seat dividers for interior rows, and in-seat power and data ports. This configuration is being replaced by the New First Class cabins.
Business Class Cabins
Cathay Pacific flights feature three business class configurations:
* The seats are arranged in a and follow a suite-like arrangement. The seats are fully lie-flat with increased privacy and larger a AVOD PTV. Additionally, the seats feature lumbar support, massage, a 110 V AC power socket, and a personal phone. However, some passengers have commented that the seats feel narrow and claustrophobic, that the angled seat pattern is uncomfortable, that the construction quality appears sub-standard, and that passengers travelling together will be separated by the pod layout.
* Business Class Seats on aircraft configured for long-haul flights include a 20.5" wide seat that converts into an angled lie-flat bed at a 60" pitch, measuring over 75" long. Features of these seats include adjustable headrest and lumbar support, water bottle holders and 10.4" PTVs with AVOD. This configuration is being phased out as it is replaced by the New Business Class interiors.
* The Regional Business Class is provided on Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777s and select Airbus A330-300s. Regional Business Class seats have 20" width and recline to 45" of pitch and feature electrical recline and leg rest. A 9" PTV is located in the armrest provides 20 video and 22 audio channels but does not offer AVOD.
Economy Class Cabins
* The seats, offered on aircraft outfitted with the refurbished long-haul interiors, were designed by B/E Aerospace. New features of these seats include a fixed back design that allows passengers to recline without intruding on those seated behind, a 9" PTV providing AVOD, a larger tray table, a coat hook and a literature pocket that has been relocated to below the seat cushion to create more leg room. These seats are 17" in width and have 32" of pitch.
* Economy Class seats each feature personal 6" PTVs with a choice of 25 channels. These seats are 17" in width and have 32" 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.
Cathay Pacific has two loyalty programmes: The Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles. Members of "The Club" are automatically enrolled as Asia Miles members.
The Marco Polo Club divides members into four tiers based on past travel. Higher tiered members are provided with increased travel benefits such as upgrades, additional baggage allowance, priority flight booking and lounge access. 50 USD is mandatory in registering as a Marco Polo Club Member. There are four tiers in the Marco Polo Club.
Although this is the lowest tier it still gives the member more benefits than a non-member Economy Class passenger. So for example Green Tier members can check in at designated Marco Polo check-in counters, which include the Business Class counters at selected airports. They are also given priority boarding. However, lounge access is not part of this tier.
Silver Tier is achieved when the member earns 30,000 club miles or 20 sectors within a year. The Marco Polo Silver Tier is in many ways much more generous than other silver cards provided by most airlines. For example a Silver Card member has guaranteed 10kg extra baggage allowance, guaranteed Business Class check-in and guaranteed Business Class lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific. Members also receive a Oneworld "Ruby" status, which enables the member to check-in at the Business Class counter when they are flying any airline that is part of the Oneworld Alliance.
With this tier, the member is entitled to a 15kg extra baggage allowance and guaranteed economy class seats . Members also receive One World "Sapphire" status which allows them to access any Business Class lounge as long as they are flying with the Oneworld Alliance. To qualify and renew their membership, Gold Tier members must earn 60,000 miles or 40 sectors within a period of one year. Members may also bring in one guest to the lounge.
This is the highest tier. Members can enjoy First Class check-in and lounge access through out the CX network and the Oneworld Network. They also gain a 20kg extra baggage allowance, and a guaranteed Economy Class seat if ticket is booked up to 24 hours in advance. To qualify for this tier, members need to earn 120,000 club miles or 80 sectors. The member also gains Oneworld "Emerald" status.
Asia Miles is a more traditional travel rewards programme in which "miles" are accumulated by flying on Cathay Pacific or a partner airline. Miles can also be earned by spending through a number of hotels, credit card companies, car rental agencies, telecommunication companies and other non-airline channels. These miles can then be redeemed for flights or other products and services. Joining is free.
It should be noted that club miles, unlike Asia Miles, can only be earned when a member flies in an eligible subclasss with CX, KA or any other member of the Oneworld Alliance. Club miles may not be purchased.
The subclasses on CX and KA that are eligible are as follows:
Y, B, H, K, L, M, V
Subclasses Y, B, H, and K are the only subclasses that are eligible for an upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class .
Cathay Pacific's network is expanding rapidly with codeshare links from Oneworld hubs such as Los Angeles International Airport and London Heathrow Airport .
Cathay Pacific has also began codeshare links with French trains from TGV station at Charles de Gaulle International Airport to ten French cities.
Cathay Pacific has codeshare agreements with the following airlines as of June 2007:
* Air China
* American Airlines
* British Airways
* Iberia Airlines
* Japan Airlines
* Malaysia Airlines
* Philippine Airlines
* Vietnam Airlines
Incidents and accidents
* On 16 June 1948, ''Miss Macao'', a flight from Macao to Hong Kong was hijacked by four men, who killed the pilot after take-off. The plane crashed in the Pearl River Delta near Zhuhai. Twenty-six people died, leaving only one survivor, who was the leader of the hijackers. This was the first hijacking of a commercial liner in the world. The plane was operated by a Cathay Pacific subsidiary.
* On 23 July 1954, DC-4, NO:VR-HEU, from Bangkok to Hong Kong was shot down by the People's Liberation Army Air Force in the South China Sea near Hainan Island. Ten people died, leaving eight survivors. After the incident, Cathay Pacific received an apology and compensation from the People's Liberation Army Air Force.
* On 05 November 1967 in Hong Kong, China - Convair CV-880-22M-3 over-ran the runway at Kai Tak. Three people were killed and the aircraft was written-off.
* On 15 June 1972, on from Bangkok to Hong Kong a bomb exploded in a suitcase placed under a seat in the cabin of the Convair 880 while the aircraft was flying at 29,000 feet over Pleiku, Vietnam. The aircraft disintegrated and crashed, killing all 81 people on board.