Rising demand for travel between Hong Kong and Australia has led Cathay Pacific to call for more capacity between the two markets. The airline, having reached its limit of 70 flights a week under current bilateral agreements, will seek additional flights as airports in Australia record dramatically increased inbound traffic from Hong Kong and China.
The issue was raised by Cathay Pacific’s chief operating officer Ivan Chu at the recent CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit.
Timing of the new services – if approved – will be determined in a large part by aircraft availability. Once operating 747-400s on key Australian routes, Cathay is retiring those aircraft and has placed A330s on services to and from Australia, a move the airline admits is not optimising performance.
According to Australian Business Traveller, Cathay Pacific could achieve a 40 per cent increase in capacity by deploying 777-300ERs on key routes. Alternatively, the airline could wait until it takes delivery of its A350-900s in 2016, which in addition to improved operating economics, would offer an additional 72 seats per flight.
Melbourne recorded traffic growth of more than 10 per cent from Hong Kong and China respectively, while Brisbane’s fastest growing source market was reported as China, at 15.9 per cent.
Cathay Pacific is keen to defend its lucrative position in the Australia market as China Southern deploys 787s and A380s to Sydney later this year in response to the growing demand, and other Chinese carriers mount higher frequencies and new destinations.