Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong-based airline facing a challenging trading environment, has decided to permanently ax seven routes, including the Maldives the favorite holiday destination of many.
The airline recently announced that it would retire Cathay Dragon used for regional flights and consolidate the aircraft, employees, and routes under its namesake brand.
Cathay Pacific has been greatly affected by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, as the Hong Kong SAR stays closed for most leisure arrivals outside of the recently launched travel bubble with Singapore.
Also, it doesn’t help that civil liberties have been eroded, and those critical of China can now be picked up by the Mainland authorities if transiting in Hong Kong.
SCMP, Hong Kong main English daily, reported today that Cathay Pacific had sent an internal memo to employees informing seven route closures of Gatwick (continues to fly Heathrow), Newark (continues to serve JFK), Washington D.C., Seattle, Brussels, Dublin, and surprisingly the Maldives too.
Cathay Pacific released the following statement to the SCMP:
“As we have previously announced, we expect to operate well under 25 per cent of 2019 passenger capacity in the first half of 2021 and below 50 per cent for the entire year,” a Cathay spokeswoman said.
“After careful consideration, we believe it is unlikely we will operate flights services to these destinations in the near future. We remain in a very dynamic situation and we will continue to review our flight network.”
It is a challenging situation for Cathay Pacific with no domestic flights and Hong Kong SAR staying closed for incoming tourists for the foreseeable future outside of possible bubbles (unless they burst), combined with the eroding civil and legal rights of those living or even transiting through HKG.
Even when we have a vaccine, it will take a while before a significant amount of the population has been vaccinated and travel restrictions lifted, and I cannot see HK SAR being at the forefront of opening up that greatly affects Cathay Pacific.
Two of these seven destinations (Newark and Gatwick) are served by other flights (JFK and Heathrow). The discontinuance of Male is of a surprise considering that many of the North Asian and North American flights must feed into this service.
Certainly tough times for all airlines and Cathay Pacific especially.