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Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 24 September 1946
Hubs Hong Kong International Airport
Focus cities
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 187 incl. cargo and Dragonair
Destinations 177 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)
  • Tin Loren (Executive Director)
Revenue HK$ 98,406 million (2011)
Operating income HK$ 5,263 million (2011)
Net income HK$ 5,501 million (2011)
Employees 22,500 (Feb 2015, Cathay Pacific), 32,900 (Feb 2015, incl. subsidiaries)[2]
Cathay Pacific Limited
Traditional Chinese 國泰航空公司
Simplified Chinese 国泰航空公司

Cathay Pacific (Chinese: 國泰航空) (SEHK: 0293) is the largest airline of Hong Kong, with its head office and main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline's operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 200 destinations in 52 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.


  • History 1
    • 1940s and 1950s: The early years 1.1
    • 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s: Expansion 1.2
    • 1990s: Rebranding, renewal, and Oneworld 1.3
      • New Hong Kong International Airport and transpolar flights 1.3.1
    • 2000s: Industrial troubles and acquisitions 1.4
      • The 49ers – employment dispute 1.4.1
      • Acquisition and downsizing of Dragonair 1.4.2
      • Economic challenges 1.4.3
    • 2010s: Current developments 1.5
  • Corporate affairs and identity 2
    • Subsidiaries and associates 2.1
    • Branding 2.2
    • Livery 2.3
  • Destinations 3
    • Codeshare agreements 3.1
  • Fleet 4
  • Loyalty programs 5
    • Marco Polo Club 5.1
    • Asia Miles 5.2
  • Services 6
    • Ground handling 6.1
    • Cabin 6.2
      • First class 6.2.1
      • Business class 6.2.2
      • Premium Economy class 6.2.3
      • Economy class 6.2.4
    • In-flight entertainment 6.3
    • Catering 6.4
  • Awards 7
    • Skytrax 7.1
  • Incidents and accidents 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


1940s and 1950s: The early years

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

Cathay Pacific DC-3 Niki

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

Cathay Pacific Convair 880 as operated from 1964 until 1974
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar at Osaka International Airport
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar at Osaka International Airport in the old livery with the Union flag of UK

The airline prospered in late 1950s and into the 1960s, helped by buying its arch rival, Hong Kong Airways, on 1 July 1959.[13] 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.[6] In 1964, it carried its one millionth passenger and acquired its first jet engine aircraft, the 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]

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 8,055 mi (12,963 km).[27]

2000s: Industrial troubles and acquisitions

Cathay Pacific operated three A340-600 from 2002 to 2008

The 2000s saw Cathay Pacific experience labor 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]

Twinjet side view on tarmac
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

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER arrives London Heathrow Airport (2015)

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.[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]

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 at Singapore Changi Airport

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 its 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.


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 Boeing 777-300

Cathay Pacific operates an all-wide-body fleet composed of Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 aircraft. The airline also has Airbus A350 XWB and Boeing 777X 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.[70]

Marco Polo Club

The Marco Polo Club logo
The Marco Polo Club logo

The Marco Polo Club is divided into four tiers, Green (entry level), Silver, Gold and Diamond, based on the member's past travel. A joining fee of US$50 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.[70][71]


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.[72]


Silver tier level is achieved or retained when the member earns 30,000 Club Miles or 20 Club Sectors during the membership year. Additional benefits for Silver Card members include advance seat reservations, priority waitlisting, Business Class check-in counters, 10 kg (22 lb) extra baggage allowance, priority baggage handling and Business Class lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated flights. Additionally, members are eligible to use the Frequent Visitor e-Channels, for seamless self-service immigration clearance at Hong Kong International Airport. Marco Polo Club Silver tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Ruby tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Ruby benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[72][73]

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, 15 kg (33 lb) or one piece of extra baggage allowance, Business Class lounge access with one guest when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated flights and arrival lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated and marketed flights. Marco Polo Club Gold tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Sapphire benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[72]


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, 20 kg (44 lb) or one piece of extra baggage allowance, First Priority baggage handling, First Class lounge access with two guests when flying Cathay Pacific or Dragonair operated flights and Business Class lounge access with two guests when flying on any airline. Marco Polo Club Diamond tier status is equivalent to Oneworld Emerald tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Emerald benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[72]

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.[74]

Asia Miles

Asia Miles member card

Asia Miles was named "Best Frequent Flyer Programme" at the 2011 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards ceremony.[75] 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.[76] [77]


Ground handling

Self-check-in kiosks
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 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.[78][79][80]

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 utilises a range of social media tools including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and blogging to share ideas with customers.[81] 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.[82]

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.[83]


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

First class on the Boeing 747-400
Cathay Pacific first class on the Boeing 747-400

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).[84][85][86]

Business class

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.[87] 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 15.4 in (39 cm) 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 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.[88][89][90]

Premium Economy class

Cathay Pacific has been introducing a Premium Economy Class from March 2012.[91] 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.[92][93]

Economy class

New Economy Class cabin on a Boeing 777-300ER
New Economy Class seats
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 17.5 in (44 cm) in width and have 32 in (81 cm) of pitch.[94][95]

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.[96] 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.[97] 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.[98]

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.[99]

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.[100] Panasonic's eX2 system is installed on aircraft, and is available on all aircraft.[101]


Cathay Pacific First Class fruit and cheese platter
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.[102] Foods served on flights from Hong Kong are provided by Cathay Pacific Catering Services (CPCS) facilities in Hong Kong.[103] CLS Catering Services Limited, a joint venture with LSG Sky Chefs, provides the inflight catering from Toronto and Vancouver airports;[104][105] while Vietnam Air Caterers, a joint venture between CPCS and Vietnam Airlines, provides the inflight catering for flights from Ho Chi Minh City.[106]



Year Awards
2003 Airline of the year
2005 Airline of the Year
2005 Best Business Class Lounge
2005 World's Best First Class
2005 Best First Class Lounge
2007 – present World's Five Star Airline
2008 World's Best First Class
2008 Best First Class Catering
2009 Airline of the Year
2009 Best Airline Asia
2009 Best Airline Southeast Asia
2010 Best Airline Transpacific
2011 Best Airline Transpacific
2011 Best First Class Seat
2012 World's Best Business Class
2013 World's Best Cabin Staff
2013 Best Airline Transpacific
2014 Airline of the Year [107]
2014 Best Airline Asia
2015 Best Airline Transpacific

Incidents and accidents

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.

  • 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.[108]
  • 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.[109]
  • 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.[110]
  • 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.[111]
  • 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.
  • 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.[112]
  • On 15 June 1972, Cathay Pacific Flight 700Z, operated by a Convair 880 (VR-HFZ) from Bangkok to Hong Kong, disintegrated and crashed while the aircraft was flying at 29,000 feet (8,800 m) over Pleiku, Vietnam after a bomb exploded in a suitcase placed under a seat in the cabin, killing all 81 people on board.[113]
  • 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.[114]

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External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official website
  • Cathay Pacific Cargo
  • Cathay Pacific Premium Economy
  • Cathay Pacific for Business
  • Route Map
  • Swire Group
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