Cathay Pacific Airways is an international award-winning scheduled airline registered and based in Hong Kong, offering passenger 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. The airline also has access to over 17 destinations in China through its subsidiary, Dragonair. Cathay Pacific is an official SkyTrax 5-star airline.
The company was founded in Hong Kong in 1946 by two visionaries, Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow, who both paid HK$1 apiece to register the airline. They named the airline, Cathay Pacific Airways. Cathay is the ancient name for China, while Pacific was named because far-sighted Farrell believed that one day the airline might fly across the Pacific Ocean.
The airline initially started services with two US Army surplus Douglas DC-3 Dakota aircraft: Betsy and Niki. The former aircraft, Betsy is repainted in her original 1940s livery, and is suspended from the ceiling at the Hong Kong Science Museum.
Cathay Pacific Airways remains deeply committed to its home base, and has in recent years made substantial investments to develop Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading international aviation hubs. In addition to its fleet of 136 aircraft, (includes 26 cargo freight aircraft), these investments include catering and ground-handling companies and the corporate headquarters at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific continues to invest heavily in its home city and has another 94 new aircraft due for delivery up to 2019 (including the 48 A350-XWB (Extra Wide Body)). The airline is also building its own cargo terminal in Hong Kong that will begin operations in early 2013. Cathay Pacific is also investing heavily in its freighter aircraft, with six Boeing 747-400ERFs, and 10 new generation Boeing 747-8Fs being scheduled for delivery by the beginning of 2013.
Cathay Pacific owns 19.53% of Air China Limited, the national flag carrier and a leading provider of passenger, cargo and other airline-related services in Mainland China. Cathay Pacific is also the major shareholder in Air Hong Kong, an all-cargo carrier offering scheduled services in the Asian region.
In November 2012, Cathay Pacific Airways was named Best Airline in the World and Best Airline First Class in the 2012 Business Traveller China Awards. The annual awards, now in their eighth year, reflect the highest praise bestowed by China’s frequent travellers on various service providers with connections to the Mainland.
The awards were presented in Shanghai in November 2012 as Business Traveller China celebrated its 10th anniversary. The results of the 2012 awards were based on the magazine’s reader poll which ran from July to September in 2012.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiaries employ some 32,900 people worldwide (more
than 22,500 of them in Hong Kong). Cathay Pacific is listed on The Stock Exchange
of Hong Kong Limited, as are its substantial shareholders Swire Pacific Limited and
The airline is a proud founding member of the Oneworld alliance, with its subsidiary, Dragonair, is an affiliate member. 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.
The new regional Business Class has a two cabin configuration (Business and Economy, and very much similar to the product offered by Dragonair as well). I tried and tested the new regional Business Class seat on this short-haul flight from Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok international to Singapore Changi International Airport. The aircraft was brand new. Greetings from seat 11A (from right-hand side corner):
Route: HONG KONG (HKG) to SINGAPORE (SIN)
Departure date and time of flight: October 2014, 14:25
Flight number: CX735 (Cathay 735 heavy)
ATC Callsign: Cathay
Flight duration: 3 Hours 55 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A330-343-X (37 aircraft of this type in service)
Aircraft registration: B-LBG
Aircraft Serial Number: 1557
First flight: 28th August, 2014
Aircraft delivery date: 23rd September 2014
Aircraft engine types: Two x Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60
Frequent flyer programme: Marco Polo Club
Marco Polo himself took many months and years to explore the world, but if you fly Cathay Pacific Airways then you can do that in a few hours, and join his exclusive club for frequent flyers at Cathay Pacific! It would be enough to make the great man jealous of those gold and diamond cardholders, were he alive today that is.
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 42 angle flat seats (2-2-2 configuration)
Economy Class: 265 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration
Punctuality of the flight/route taken:
The flight departed on time from Hong Kong, went over the Chinese owned Paracel Islands near Vietnam (beautiful view!), and landed on a muggy and humid Singapore evening.
Any baggage issues:
I had already checked-in my baggage at Guangzhou’s Baiyun Airport, so this was a connecting flight.
For all classes, each passenger (except an infant) can bring a free baggage allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 56x36x23cm (22x14x9 inch) in size. These dimensions include wheels, handles, and side pockets.
Lounge experience at Hong Kong Airport:
Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair have five lounges at Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok Airport for their first and business Class passengers. They are:
The Wing & The Pier
The Pier, and The Wing are premium lounges in addition to The Cabin and The Arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport. Located at Level 5 near gates 62-66, The Pier covers over 3900m2, and provides another alternative for the First and Business Class passengers to relax and enjoy. Both lounges have separate facilities available for Business and First Class passengers, and both offer a personalised space in tranquil surroundings. These lounges are for the classy and the chic to while away their time away from the hustle & bustle of the airport. One of the unique features at The Pier is the addition of six Day-Break Rooms. Each offers an undisturbed environment to enjoy a little extra privacy.
The Cabin (for departures) & The Arrival (for arrivals)
In addition to The Wing and The Pier, The Cabin is the airlines newest departure lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, conveniently located near Gate 23 on the central concourse.
Contemporary, refreshing, and dynamic, The Cabin is ultra-modern in design and introduces some brand new seating and dining concepts. Similar facilities as the other lounges are present at The Cabin. These include the IT Zone, The Deli (offering various Western and Asian hot and cold dishes), The Health bar (lovely freshly made smoothies, or Chinese herbal teas anyone?), and the The Arrival lounge is the airlines new premium arrivals lounge at the Hong Kong International Airport. Once passengers on Business and First Class arrive into Hong Kong, before they commence their activities in town, the lounge enables them to get refreshed and revitalised at the arrivals lounge. The Arrival lounge is located past the arrivals hall, at the centre passage connecting Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, right below the Airport Express station.
All of the lounges can be accessed by First and Business Class passengers, Gold tier members or above of The Marco Polo Club and Emerald members of oneworld™ on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair arriving same day in Hong Kong OR transiting same day with more than 4 hours of transit time are welcomed to visit the arrivals lounge.
Managed by Dragonair staff and for those passengers that are connecting to Dragonair flights to/from Hong Kong airport, the G16 Lounge is located right opposite gate 16. The G16 lounge provides world-class facilities such as wireless and high-speed internet, plenty of high quality 5-star meals and drinks, and washrooms to freshen yourself before or after the flight. On my flight back from Doha (separate report) to Hong Kong, I was advised to use the G16 lounge because my connecting flight was with Dragonair to Hangzhou. Passengers flying with Cathay Pacific Airways can of course, also access the G16 lounge.
From The Pier Lounge to gate 24, where the aircraft was parked took around 15 minutes. Hong Kong Airport was quite busy at this time in the afternoon. On the long-haul sector, such as this one, an average Business Class seat can cost anything in the range between US$4,500-US$6,600 depending on the destination, so considering the current economic climate, if the Business Class cabin is full then you can take a guess of how much money companies and people still have!
In-flight magazine: Discovery (published by ACP Magazines Asia Ltd)
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Passengers’ in Business Class are offered hot lemon scented towels prior to departure. This is followed by a drinks service, which consists of some of the world’s finest wines, and champagne. In Business Class, the cabin crew offer five kinds of drinks prior to departure:
Both Cloud Nine and Oriental Breeze are signature drinks provided by Cathay Pacific Airways, and both drinks are equally impressive in taste, look, and feel.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Around about 35 minutes after departure, drinks were served from the trolley along with the helping of the huge Macadamia nuts, and salted almonds on bone china plates. I opted for another glass of that fine Champagne (Billecart-Salmon Brut), and also the piper-heidsieck Brut.
There was also the celebrated Cathay Pacific complimentary bar service for Business Class passengers, including various alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks. Ground coffee, and decaffeinated coffee or tea (English earl grey, Ceylon, and Chinese green tea) were also available. On top of this, there were a selection of herbal teas including green tea with jasmine, peppermint, and camomile with honey.
With or without the meal, the wine list included for this flight would make anyone’s mouth water:
Buissonnier Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise 2012
Coopers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand
Chateau Taffard de Blaignan Medoc 2009, French (Bordeaux)
Gemtree Bloodstone McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010, Australia
Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2007
Ample choice of whiskies (Chivas Regal 12 Year old, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Canadian Club, and Jack Daniel’s), Cognac (Hine, ‘rare and delicate’ fine champagne), and various beers, aperitifs & cocktails, and liqueurs.
I opted for the signature Cathay Pacific cocktail to go with dinner: Pacific Sunrise- champagne with Drambuie with zest of lemon orange.
Comments regarding the meal:
For the first meal, a choice of four entrées were provided– all selected from a superb range of Asian and Western dishes.
Meals are served on a low trolley that gives the passenger an inviting eye-level choice of what's on offer and the airline is also introducing new food service items with a more Asian feel in their Business Class. All food in the Business Class cabins in Cathay Pacific is served on elegant bone china tableware specially designed and exclusively produced by Narumi of Japan.
Freshly prepared Asian Soup
Mixed salad with French vinaigrette
The roasted potatoes may have been slightly hard, but the salmon’s exceptionally awesome taste certainly did the trick in disguising that fact. What I really liked about the salmon were the sprinkled spices and pepper, which were spread right the way across the skin of the meat. A wonderful touch to the touch. The fresh taste of the salmon reminded me of a similar dish I had at The Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai earlier this year.
There were two options for the main course, including:
Afternoon tea set
Cantonese Dim Sum set
I opted for the Afternoon Tea set, which consisted of a cute little sandwich, scone, a fruit quiche and a ham roll. Accompanying the main dish was a plate of fresh seasonal salad.
Cheese & Dessert:
A selection of Blue d’Auvergne, red Leicester, Taleggio with cabernet paste
A selection of fresh seasonal fruit
A tub of Haagen Dazs ice-cream
The plate of fresh seasonal fruit was equally well dressed. Generous portions of kiwi fruit, mango, melon, and watermelon were provided. The skin had been taken off, so all the hard work had been done for you (passengers are spoilt on Cathay Pacific).
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
The new Business Class seat has a 15.4” personal television screen (PTV) that can be pulled out of the front bay with a click of a button. If you are seated in the middle aisle seat then during take-off, landing, and taxi, you end up looking at your neighbours PTV. Each PTV comes with Audio and Video on Demand (AVOD), offering a choice of over 100 movies, over 500 TV shows, 888 music CDs, 24 radio channels, and over 70 games – and with 10 languages represented, you’re sure to find something you enjoy. Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology are presented to every passenger in Business, and Premium Economy Class cabins.
When it comes to entertainment, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Audio on Demand service is offered to all passengers on long-haul aircraft. Audio books are also available. Each seat in Business Class has an 110V AC power port. Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers may have to share a power port with adjacent seats.
Connections enabling passengers to listen to, or watch on their individual screens, content on their personal iPods or USB devices are available on this aircraft (the Airbus A330-343X).
The music played upon boarding and upon dis-embarking the aircraft changes every month on Cathay Pacific flights. Some of the tunes played include ‘Faith’ by Medwyn Goodall, and ‘Feel’, by Robbie Williams.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew appear to have been trained very well, and seem to know how to handle all kinds of situations. The trainers must have had everything thrown at them, ranging from rowdy passengers to those having a nervous breakdown. These people are amazing. They really do pamper you. To the outsider it may seem that being cabin crew is an easy job, however in fact it’s a very challenging job, and there is more to the job then just handing out the meals. With many months of hard work and training under their belt, cabin crewmembers are chosen very carefully by the airline. God forbid, if anything happens on a flight (could be anything ranging from ill passengers, fights, drunken passengers, hijackings, and even pregnancies!), then it is the cabin crew who have to handle with such situations in a calm and cool manner. It certainly takes a certain personality to do such a job, and with a constant smile on their face too (a genuine one).
Like they say in the corporate world, you may have the best brand in the world, but that brand is worth nothing if it not for the people that make great things happen for that brand. Cathay Pacific's current uniforms are designed by renowned Hong Kong designer, Eddie Lau. Ladies wear a red skirt with a white blouse that has the ‘brushwing’ logo in gold and red colours. The ladies also have a bright red blouse jacket which they can wear- matching with the red skirt. The gentlemen wear black starched trousers with a white shirt. Along with that the men wear a red tie with black stripes (junior cabin crew), or a gold tie with black stripes (senior cabin crew).
Cathay Pacific Airways stand by their words, and truly give a 5-star service. If you are a frustrated passenger (for whatever reason), then let me reassure you that the cabin crew are always trying to go through great trouble to make your flight as comfortable as possible. I am saying this from personal experience. As a frustrated passenger (we have all been in that situation at some point or another in our lives), it can be easy for some of us to lose their cool when things are not going as we expect them to be. It’s because of the professionalism and integrity of the cabin crew that the airline is classed as a truly 5-star airline that endeavours to provide a truly 5-star service to its customers.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The new Business Class regional cabin is fitted with the spanking new fully angle flat seat, which has a pitch of 45 inches and a width of 20. All the Business Class seats on Cathay Pacific aircraft were designed by James Park Associates, and Recaro Aircraft Seating. All First Class seats were designed by Zodiac UK, and Economy and premier Economy Class seats were designed James Park Associates and Zodiac USA.
There is certainly plenty of space available. I had my camera bag (which is annoyingly big), plus my laptop (I seldom have to sleep on a daytime flight so I end up working!), AND my carrier bag. All of these were neatly stored before departure. Oh, there is also space for you to put your shoes during the long flight so you can sit like as if you are sitting on your sofa at home. The Business Class cabins on all aircraft have artwork displayed in front of the cabin by Maria Lobo.
The side cabinet houses not only the headset and a vanity mirror (nice addition…you can imagine the celebs putting on their best look prior to landing), but has room for small items such as glasses and other minor but important things – and the cabinet door doubles as a privacy divider. Then there is are minor but important touches such as the personal reading light (with adjustable brightness) and a personal stowage compartment with space for a water bottle and magazines.
There was no amenity kit provided for this short-haul regional flight.
Cathay Pacific logo and livery:
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Cathay Pacific Airways used to support a green and white striped livery. This old livery was replaced with the current "brushwing" livery In 1994 the airline announced that it would establish its new corporate identity, with a 23 million Hong Kong dollar (RM 7.3 million) program to update its image. - Cathay Pacific relaunched its corporate image in the early 1990s. Cathay Pacific commented that after building a reputation over 50 years for technical excellence and high-quality service, Cathay Pacific had no intention of changing its core values. Therefore, the new corporate identity was merely intended to communicate these values more effectively to all current and future customers.
Cathay Pacific worked with Landor Associates, the world’s largest corporate identity management firm, to help create the new identity. The brushwing livery expresses the carrier’s unique character as an Asian with an international outlook. The sophistication of the logo conveys Cathay Pacific’s technical expertise and uncompromising attention to safety and reliability. The brushwing also embodies a sense of energetic flight, and being a “handmade” symbol it acknowledges the company's devotion to high standards of caring, personal service.
In October 2014, the airline unveiled a new identity, symbolising the airline’s efforts to create a better, more beautiful and more enjoyable journey for passengers, they refreshed many aspects of the brand identity. Centred on the timeless brushwing icon, they sought to simplify, clarify and beautify. The brushwing no longer sits constrained inside a box, and has been gently harmonised and set free. The airline also defined tighter rules around sub-brands which will now be clearly aligned within a simplified, tiered hierarchy. They are also using a tighter palette of colours and typography. Click here to learn more.
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
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