Cathay Pacific has boosted the strength of its Hong Kong hub with the reopening of business class lounge “The Pier” as it takes the fight up to its rivals for premium passengers amid sluggish market conditions.
Following the upgrade, The Pier business class lounge has been expanded by 1,000 square metres (to 3,306 square metres) has enough seating for 550 people. Located in the north-west part of the airport, it is the airline’s largest lounge.
The refurbished Pier, designed by London-based Studioilse, features Cathay’s signature noodle bar as well as showers, workstations and a tea house. It aims to replicate elements of Hong Kong street life, “albeit elevated to a more luxurious standard, to give a distinctly Hong Kong identity to the lounge offering”, Cathay said.
It is the latest facility in Cathay’s lounge network to get an upgrade, following the opening of refreshed lounges in external ports such as Bangkok, Manila, Tokyo (Haneda) and Vancouver in recent times, as the airline faces competition for premium travellers from the likes of Singapore Airlines and the rise and rise of China’s big three – Air China, China Eastern and China Southern.
The airline’s traffic statistics for April showed weakening passenger demand across most of the network, Cathay Pacific general manager for revenue management Patricia Hwang said.
“The number of passengers carried decreased compared to the same month in 2015, despite more capacity being operated, which resulted in another drop in load factor,” Hwang said in a statement.
“April figures received a boost from Easter returning traffic and the beginning of travel for the Labour Day holidays in China, but overall we are not seeing the high volumes we saw last year. Pressure on yield remains, with competition increasing and premium demand continuing to fall short of expectations.”
The oneworld alliance member, which serves Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney with a mix of Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER equipment, will also get a boost to both its passenger offering and bottom line at the end of May, when it was due to receive the first of 22 new generation, fuel efficient Airbus A350-900s on order.
The A350-900s, will be configured with business, premium economy and economy, were expected to feature new seats and on board internet.
Cathay has announced previously Dusseldorf and London (Gatwick) were the first two long-haul destinations for the A350-900, with Auckland also expected to receive the type before the end of 2016.
The airline has also ordered 26 of the larger A350-1000.
Recent reports said Cathay chief executive Ivan Chu has initiated some cost-cutting measures such as cuts to non-essential discretionary expenditure, a hiring freeze for non-essential personnel and a review of operational budgets.