Cathay Pacific Brands Reshuffle Coming? (Cathay Dragon & HK Express)


There have been rumors circulating in Hong Kong since late Friday that Cathay Pacific would restructure its airline brands.

HK Express

Cathay Pacific recently rebranded Dragonair as Cathay Dragon, and last year purchased HK Express from the Mainland based HNA that also owns Hong Kong Airlines (not part of the deal).

You can access Cathay Pacific here.

Let’s look at the brands:

Cathay Pacific is a full-service airline that serves regional and long-haul routes. Only wide-body aircraft. Oneworld member.

Cathay Dragon (previously Dragonair) was a brand that Cathay mainly used for flights to/from Mainland but has recently expanded to more regional ones (taken over destinations from Cathay such as Kuala Lumpur). Supposedly lower-cost operation and both twin and single-aisle aircraft. Also Oneworld member.

HK Express is an airline that Cathay last year acquired from the HNA conglomerate that is falling apart and sold in parts by the Chinese government. HK Express flies regional routes using narrow-body aircraft and is a true low-cost-airline. Not part of any alliance.

Here’s what the airport looked like in early March:

Hong Kong Airport (HKG) Very Quiet Experience

And all the parked planes:


I guess that the main question is, regardless of whether the rumors have any truth or not, does Cathay need three airline brands of Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, and HK Express?

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are both full service, while HK Express is a true LCC with pay-for-everything. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are mostly the same from the service aspect, while HK Express is not.

Perhaps it would make sense to fold the Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon brands and rename HK Express as Cathay Express to build trust among potential passengers.

Then there were whispers that if China Southern, former Sky Team member, joins Oneworld Cathay Pacific could perhaps switch to Star Alliance (Air China owns roughly 30% of the airline while Qatar has a 10% stake).

Covid-19 has severely affected Cathay Pacific, reducing the flight activity by 97%. It would have helped if Hong Kong had allowed transit passengers. The current flights only allow residents to return and quarantine on arrival), and visitors to leave Hong Kong. Obviously, there are cargo aspects as well.

We are living exciting times. There are airlines that won’t survive this pandemic, while others need some care and restructuring to flourish in the post-Covid-19 world.

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