So the news coming out of Hong Kong regarding Cathay Pacific (CX) has been a bit of doom and gloom of late. A sharp decline in earnings and a free fall in profits, staff cuts, fleet deferrals, Dragonair secondments, crew reductions. But perhaps that’s more of a reflection of the past two quarters – and perhaps it was more of CX having to simply ride the storm. We already knew that the airline had hedged (disastrously) on fuel and that would be very harsh on their bottom line – though that time line is about to expire. So things possibly could get better in the near future for the airline.
And another positive thing – despite the difficulties Cathay has been facing, the airline has been quietly adding pragmatically and aggressively to their route network and expanding their operations. Just in the past year CX has added long haul flights to Manchester, London (Gatwick), Dusseldorf and Madrid. It is highly challenging and a cost intensive initiative to commence a brand new long haul flight so kudos to Cathay for being so confident in starting these new flights.
And as it turns out the airline isn’t done yet. Cathay Pacific has just announced new flights to Tel Aviv non-stop from Hong Kong, starting in the Spring of 2017. This marks CX’s first foray into Israel and finally gives much needed competition to the sole incumbent on the route, El Al – indeed the airline enjoys a monopoly on a majority of their Asian services and this is reflected in their exorbitant pricing for a decidedly substandard product.
As per the official press release Cathay released a few hours back:
Tel Aviv is Israel’s hip and historic city-by-the-sea that serves up a bit of everything: from its Bauhaus-influenced White City district and millennia-old Jaffa Port, to mouthwatering Mediterranean-meets-Middle Eastern cuisine and a world-famous party scene.
With our new service, you can explore this vibrant cultural hub starting from 26 March 2017. Choose from four flights a week on board our state-of-the-art A350 aircraft – offering Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class to help you travel well.
The brand new A350 – awesome! This aircraft seems to be a game changer for CX as void of any 787s, this aircraft is allowing the airline to experiment with new long routes that weren’t viable with the 777 – either due to the economics of the aircraft or simply being too big for these ‘secondary’ non hub to hub routes.
As stated above, the first flight will be on March 26, 2017 – the beginning of the IATA Summer schedule. It’s important to note however that the schedule changes for the Winter season:
This flight is great in that it finally – finally – provides an important oneworld link from Asia to Israel. This comes especially useful if you’re looking to do a Round-The-World (RTW) ticket through oneworld.com and connect through to Europe or the US. It’s now a viable option to get off a CX flight from Hong Kong and hop on an American Airlines flight to New York and be on the same ticket. Not bad.
It’s also great because the timings – a late night departure and an early morning arrival on both ends from and to Hong Kong allow for a massive array of connections from Cathay’s extensive network throughout Asia. The arrival and departure timings in Israel are also convenient in that you arrive ready for a full day of fun in what CX terms as a ‘hip and historic city by the sea’.
Two important regions have just been linked within the oneworld network by their one ‘5 Star’ carrier. The option to skip over from Asia to the Med has just gotten infitinely easier for those frequent fliers on a RTW ticket. What’s not to like?
So…see you onboard?