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Cathay Pacific ending flights to Cairns

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 29, 2019

Cathay Pacific flies between Hong Kong and Cairns with Airbus A330-300s. (Rob Finlayson)
Cathay Pacific flies between Hong Kong and Cairns with Airbus A330-300s. (Rob Finlayson)

Cairns will lose its last remaining nonstop link to Hong Kong from October 2019 when Cathay Pacific ends flights to Far North Queensland.

Cathay Pacific confirmed the withdrawal from the Cairns route in an emailed statement to Australian Aviation.

“Cathay Pacific will suspend its scheduled service between Hong Kong and Cairns effective from 27 October 2019,” the statement said.

“At Cathay Pacific, we are always evaluating our network deployment as part of our overall business review.”

Reservations for Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong-Cairns flights have been closed for travel after October 27 2019, according to the AirlineRoute website.

Currently, Cathay Pacific serves Cairns four times a week from its Hong Kong hub with three-class Airbus A330-300s offering 39 business, 21 premium economy and 191 economy seats for a total of 251.

The flights operate as an overnight service from Hong Kong, with the CX147 departing at 2120 local time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, arriving in Cairns at 0630 the following day.

The A330-300 then does a Cairns-Brisbane-Cairns rotation, before taking off from Cairns at 1505 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays bound for Hong Kong.

In the past, Cathay Pacific has during busy travel periods such as the Australian summer holidays de-linked Brisbane and Cairns by offering three nonstop flights a week to Cairns and 11 nonstop flights a week to Brisbane from its Hong Kong hub.

The airline said it would continue to offer Cairns as a destination in its route network through its codeshare partner Qantas.

In October 2018, Qantas added its QF airline code on Cathay Pacific’s nonstop flights from Cairns and Perth to Hong Kong, as well as flights beyond Hong Kong to the likes of India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

At the same time, Cathay Pacific added its CX airline code on select Qantas-operated domestic services from Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The two carriers are also attempting to forge a deeper codeshare agreement involving each other’s flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Hong Kong. The application is before Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC). Virgin Australia has called on the commission to knock back the application on competition grounds.

Cathay Pacific said it would ensure that the impact on passengers booked to travel between Hong Kong and Cairns after October 27 would be minimal.

The end of nonstop flights to Cairns will leave Cathay Pacific with five destinations in Australia – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – with passenger services. The airline also has cargo flights out of Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba.

Cathay Pacific’s decision to end flights to Cairns follows Hong Kong Airways’ withdrawal from the market in October 2018, when the Virgin Australia alliance partner ended its flights to both Cairns and the Gold Coast.

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Comments (6)

  • Kim


    Not surprised, I use to fly a lot with them however changed to Singapore Airlines
    I always book a window seat, Cathay now charge about $55 per sector compared with Singapore’s $9
    Considering i fly international every month and using between 4 & six sectors it soon adds up
    Now imagine that by though with family’s

  • Andrew


    As one of those passengers affected by this cancellation, I find the Cathay quote in this article quite laughable. We were booked to come back to Cairns from Dublin on the day after their last flight, and we gather we will be re-routed to BNE ( having flown directly over Cairns 2 hours earlier ) , and then back up to Cairns making a 7 Hr Flight into a 14 Hr flight:
    This, after a 12 hr flight from Dublin and a 14 hr layover in Hong Kong … and the quote “is the impact would be minimal” !
    We usually use Silk Air/Singapore non-stop to Singapore, and now they plan on daily services from June 2019, it will be Singapore again.
    Incidentally, this announcement was made on Friday morning, and we still have not received official notification that our flight is cancelled, even after several phone calls that said “yes, it does appear your flight is not operating” responses.

    • OC


      Yes Cathay are delusional if they think they will keep any HKGCNS volume post this move.

      They can expect the demand that originates from Cairns and from locations other than HK to go to zero after this change. Nobody wants to fly 50% further (HKG -> BNE -> CNS vs HKG -> CNS) and have to clear immigration and customs, gather their bags and traipse to the domestic airport at BNE from the international terminal.

      This is a gift to Singapore airlines who will end up with a near monopoly on anybody wanting to fly to Europe or Asia from Cairns and vice versa.

  • franz chong


    it stuns me why they are doing that.i am from adelaide and we are not even listed in the lonely planet guide to australia yet cathay pacific can run six flights a week here to and from hong kong of which some of them are redeye outbound and daylight back and the reverse on others plus on the days when they don’t offer anything a qantas codeshare to melbourne or sydney exists which for us works out well as either is on the way to hkg ex adl.

  • Kenn Raymond


    Shame Cathay!!!… we loved flying business from CNS to LHR via Hong Kong, and, since we’d lived in HK for many years we often had protracted stop overs in HK. Now we won’t in the future even contemplate HK. Shame; another tourist lost to H! And, what now will happen to the international lounge at CNS (Reef Lounge)? I think Cathay “owned it” or, at least operates it; not that it was all that brilliant with its bizarre opening hours. Now, if only Singapore Airlines DIDN’T use SilkAir on the final SIN-CNS leg, the business class on this flight is not worth the extra, then maybe we wouldvflybthem again?

  • Philip Kenyon


    What a pity. My Wife and myself used to love flying from Zurich to Hong Kong and on to Cairns, with a stopover (2 nights each way) in Hong Kong.
    Do they realise that this move also affects not only the flight business but also the hotel business!
    Shame on you Cathay.

    Philip Kenyon

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