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Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Announce Travel Recovery Plan
Prolonged travel restrictions and comprehensive entry requirements for international travelers continue to be significant obstacles for airlines. Partially as a result, airlines have recorded low travel demand and aircraft load factors throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Nevertheless, Cathay Pacific — an airline that has gradually adapted to the changes than other carriers — plans to recognize and follow the Hong Kong government’s recovery initiatives. Recently, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-Po discussed in a budget speech the city’s plans for recovery to secure a stable, long-term future, for the region’s aviation and tourism sectors.
“As the financial secretary stated, the COVID-19 epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to the local tourism industry. We are pleased the government will discuss and work out arrangements regarding the introduction of Air Travel Bubbles, which will pave the way for the resumption of international air travel,” Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said in a statement. “We are also encouraged by the additional support to further promote Hong Kong and attract visitors to the city upon the gradual resumption of cross-boundary travel.”
Tang also touched on the airline’s cargo business. Cathay Pacific Cargo is responsible for managing a vast majority of the airline’s cargo operations, operating a fleet of 14 Boeing 747-8s Freighters and six Boeing 747-400ERFs. In addition, Cathay Pacific — in response to the increase in demand for air cargo throughout the crisis — operated Boeing 777-300ERs to transport necessary medical supplies in its passenger cabins to other continents.
“We also share the view that Hong Kong’s air cargo sector plays a leading role in the world and welcome the government’s continued focus on enhancing the city’s intermodal transportation services to reinforce Hong Kong’s position as the international air cargo hub of the Greater Bay Area,” Tang added.
Airline’s Partnership With Government
Cathay Pacific’s strategic decision to align itself with the local government’s future outlook was established to help guide the carrier toward recovery from the overwhelming effects of the crisis. As the special administrative region (SAR) has imparted limitations on international travel throughout the region and for dozens of other countries, the carrier remains keen on exploring other methods to come closer to resuming international travel.
Last Friday, the prominent Oneworld alliance carrier flew its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Beijing to Hong Kong. Onboard the special operation flight were one million doses of Sinovac’s vaccines to satisfy the demands of the SAR government’s vaccination program.
“This is an important milestone in Hong Kong’s fight against COVID-19, and we are immensely proud to be doing our part in this fight. It is a successful effort, which involves close collaboration with the Airport Authority of Hong Kong, and many of our industry partners and business associates,” Tang added. “We stand ready to undertake future shipments using our vaccine solution product and support the Government in its community-wide rollout program.”
Cathay Pacific has set itself on a critically needed course as it decides to support and acknowledge the local government’s plans to boost tourism and gradually welcome back international travelers into the region rather than fight back against the region’s current plans. The airline has also decided to contribute its resources and aircraft to reinforce the government’s recovery plan, with the intent of getting closer to ultimately resuming international flights once travel demand begins to rebound.
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