Cathay Pacific announces direct flights from Hong Kong to Ireland, Belgium and Denmark
Ireland, Belgium and Denmark will be connected to Hong Kong by air for the first time as Cathay Pacific Airways announced three new European flights for 2018 on Thursday.
The non-stop flights to Dublin, Brussels and Copenhagen, the first of which will begin from March next year, are a bid to attract new trade and tourism to Hong Kong.
They will also raise the stakes against the airline’s Middle East competition, that have been in part responsible for hurting Cathay Pacific’s business by offering cheaper flights. Cathay Pacific lurched to a HK$2.05 billion loss in the first half of this year, blaming intense competition.
The premium Hong Kong airline will still compete indirectly against the Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways on one or more of the new routes.
In contrast to mainland Chinese carriers who have expanded aggressively towards North America, Europe and Australia in recent years, Cathay Pacific will be the first Chinese airline to fly to Dublin and Copenhagen – none of the mainland or Taiwanese carriers currently fly to those European destinations, and will join Hainan Airlines which flies to Brussels.
Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific CEO, said the new routes were important to raise Hong Kong’s links around the world, adding that the airline was responding to passenger demand for new flights.
“Growing our reach to new destinations that aren’t served from Hong Kong boosts the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and enables us to capture new and important sources of revenue,” he said.
The airline’s European expansion will bring the number of destinations it services to 15.
Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based aviation analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation, said Cathay Pacific was not particularly pressured to launch new routes because of competition.
Discounted flights and hotel packages among Cathay Pacific’s bid to cater to ‘price-sensitive travellers’
“Airlines, of course, consider peer developments but they mostly plan around what’s right for their business,” he said.
All three new European flights will be served by the airline’s newest aircraft, the Airbus A350, and each flight will leave Hong Kong after midnight and arrive into Hong Kong around 7am.
Brussels will see four flights a week from March 25. Dublin will take-off from June 2, also with four weekly flights, and Copenhagen will see summer-only flights three times a week between May 2 and October 12.
Singapore, which rivals Hong Kong as an international airport destination, scored a major coup as Australia’s national airline Qantas said on Thursday it would resume stopover flights in Singapore instead of Dubai between Australia and Europe.
Singapore was considering much more popular with travellers, with the original decision to switch meaning Hong Kong gained from the move, until today.
There were “no plans” for Qantas to resume stopover flights to London from Hong Kong, which were cancelled in 2011 as part of cutbacks by the airline.
Brussels – from March 25
CX339 from Hong Kong: departure 12.35am / arrival 6.55am (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)
CX338 from Brussels: departure 1.10pm / arrival 6.55am +1 (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)
Dublin – from June 2
CX307 from Hong Kong: departure 12.50am / arrival 6.45am (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday)
CX306 from Dublin: departure 11.50am / arrival 7.05am +1 (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday)
Copenhagen – May 2 to October 12
CX227 from Hong Kong: departure 01.10am / arrival 6.30am (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
CX226 from Copenhagen: departure 1.55pm / arrival 6.35am +1 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)