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Fly away with Cathay Pacific
by Muguette Goufrani

We have flown Cathay Pacific Airlines from Vancouver, BC , Canada to New York for the past seven years, and are extremely pleased with the service we've received. If Africa Travel Magazine were handing out awards for courtesy and friendliness at this time, the staff at the JFK International Airport in New York would rank extremely high. We would gladly recommend this airline to anyone flying between these two cities and anywhere else on its agenda. Here is a brief profile on the airline from its excellent in-flight magazine:

Sep 07, 2013

Asia's aviation axis has shifted from Singapore Airlines (SIA) to Cathay Pacific as the region undergoes both cyclical and structural change. SIA is more exposed than Cathay to the weak economies of Europe while Cathay can more effectively serve North America, currently a strong market. Cathay's Hong Kong hub is far better suited to capturing Chinese growth than is Changi, and Hong Kong's more northerly location than Singapore means diversions through the Middle East on Gulf carriers are less of a threat than at SIA.

Cathay's decision to offer premium economy – which SIA is still hesitant to do – is bearing fruit. SIA however has made more significant and bolder change than Cathay, embarking on new partnerships and launching long-haul LCC Scoot. These will take time to mature – Scoot especially.

These factors are unlikely to change in the short term, but the long term contains much greater uncertainty. The possibilities of deep partnerships, acquisition, consolidation, changes in bilaterals or a surge in growth out of India and Indonesia, to name but a few, could potentially re-balance not only SIA and Cathay, but all of Asian – and probably global – aviation. This report looks at where Cathay and SIA compare today and what the future may hold as they pursue different strategies.

Profits and operating margins higher in last four years at Cathay than SIA
Since 2009 Cathay has posted larger operating profits than SIA. Prior to 2009 SIA was consistently the better performer, including during the global financial crisis which impacted both carriers significantly. 2012 gives a worrying trend for Cathay, but its performance in 1H2013 is significantly better (relative to itself – not globally) than a year ago due to capacity cuts and re-fleeting.

Reported operating profits are for each airline's group. For Cathay this includes Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, cargo, catering and other services. For SIA this primarily includes Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, cargo, engineering and in some years its SATS division. While the flying components are the largest source of revenue, they are typically lower yielding; the balance is further skewed as SIA has an engineering division with a large third-party business whereas Cathay does not. Cathay does not report profits for each main division but SIA does.

Cathay Pacific Airways was founded in Hong Kong in 1946 by two adventurers American Roy Farrell and Australian Sydney de Kantzow. The Cathay Pacific story is one of the most romantic in aviation history. It began with the entrepreneurial vision of two former transport pilots - American Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow from Australia - who had flown transport planes over the "HUMP" from Calcutta to Kunming during World War 11. After the war, they spotted an opportunity to start passenger and cargo flights out of Shanghai and, in May 1946, moved their enterprise to the British colony of Hong Kong, naming it Cathay Pacific Airways - Cathay, the ancient name for China; and Pacific, because the far-sighted Farrell speculated that one day the embryonic airline might fly across the Pacific ocean.

By 1948, CPA was operating scheduled services to five destinations around Asia. The same year, Butterfield & Swire, Cathay Pacific continued to grow rapidly. During the 1970, the airline began serving its first destinations beyond Asia with flights to the Middle East, as well as starting its first cargo-only flights.

With delivery of its first Boeing 747-200 in 1980, Cathay Pacific launched its inaugural Hong Kong London service, and then became the world's first airline to take delivery of the Rolls-Royce-poweded Boeing 747-400, which revolutionized long haul travel, bringing destinations such as Vancouver, London and Los Angels within nonstop range. 45 percent of the Airline is owned by Swire Pacific, part of Hong Kong based conglomerate Swire Group, while China International Trust & Investment Corporation (CITIC) holds a further 25.4 percent and John Swire & Sons provides a wide range of management services to the airline.

In 1996, the airline commemorated its 50th anniversary and in 1999, the airline took delivery of three Boeing 777-300s, one of the most advanced passenger aircraft in the market today. Cathay Pacific's continued success is closely tied to that of Hong Kong, and with this in mind the airline has invested a total of HK$8 BILLION (us$1 billion in its new headquarters at Cathay Pacific City and in the infrastructure of the Hong Kong international Airport at Chek Lap Kok which opened on 6 July 1998: Cathay Pacific's new home in the heart of Asia. More information is also available on the website: www.cathaypacific.com

We will describe our most recent flight in more detail later, but first here is some supporting information we gathered via press release that was sent to our office. It speaks of a very key topic - management:

Cathay Pacific Airways has been ranked the best managed major airline in Asia and the second best managed major airline in the world by leading airline industry magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology. Cathay Pacific, which offers twice daily Boeing 747-400 service from Vancouver to Hong Kong, daily non-stops to New York and daily direct A340-300 service from Toronto to Honk Kong, offers service to 47 destinations from its "Super Hub" in Honk Kong.

Cathay Pacific was also lauded for the "exceptionally strong performance" of its management. The rankings are based on a combination of asset utilization, productivity and financial health. Aviation Week said the highly-ranked companies should serve as a guide for aerospace companies and airlines worldwide.

As the national carrier of Hong Kong SAR and based at Hong Kong International Airport, Cathay Pacific is majority-owned by logistics corporation Swire Pacific with significant shareholdings from Air China parent CNAC. Using a fleet which includes widebody Boeingand Airbus aircraft, Cathay Pacific’s extensive network consists of services throughout Asia, Europe, North America, CanadaAustralia and New Zealand. Cathay Pacific is a founding member of the oneworld alliance and wholly-owns short-haul operator Dragonair. By Capa Aviation.