Today marks 40 years since the first Cathay Pacific flight took off from Hong Kong for Sydney to start a relationship that has provided continuous non-stop service between the two cities for over 10 million passengers.
From its early days of just three flights a week in 1974 on a Boeing 707, today Cathay Pacific operates 28 flights per week, equating to four per day.
Cathay’s director of corporate development James Barrington said, “Forty years is an incredibly long time and we are incredibly grateful to Australians for their long support of what was then quaintly described as an ‘oriental’ airline.
“Sydney is an incredibly important part of our network and our growth has been very steady over the years. From the Boeing 707, we have seen many types of aircraft deployed on the route including 747s, Airbus A330s and from later this year, we will add a 777-300ER which will increase our capacity.
“We like to offer our passengers a choice of departure times – two morning, one afternoon, one evening – so they leave and arrive at times that are convenient to them and I believe this is a great part of our appeal for people flying to and from Sydney, along with our award-winning service, of course,” said Barrington.
Cathay Pacific was founded by Australian Sydney de Kantzow, along with his American friend Roy Farrell, almost 70 years ago. Cathay Pacific’s first commercial flight was bringing cargo to Sydney back in 1946.
Barrington said, “Our freight business between Sydney and Hong Kong really began in earnest in 1974 and today we carry a great deal of cargo in the belly of our passenger planes as well as our 747 freighters.”
Since 1974 the airline has transported more than one million tonnes of freight from the city to Hong Kong and around the world.
“We have not only carried an incredible amount of freight over the years, we have also transported some very interesting cargo including polo ponies to Miami, replacement yacht masts urgently needed for round the world yacht races, mining equipment, turf for the Dubai racecourse and of course an incredible variety of Australia’s primary produce including dairy, fruit and vegetables, flowers and seafood to all parts of the Cathay Pacific network around the world,” said Barrington.
Over the past 40 years, the Cathay Pacific network around the world has grown to over 190 destinations in 47 countries including nine European destinations, and many same-day connections. The airline also flies to more than 20 destinations in China with its sister airline Dragonair.
Barrington said, “Air travel has come a long way since those early days. Forty years ago, we offered two classes of service – First and Economy – Business Class simply hadn’t been invented. More recently still we have introduced premium economy class which has been well received.
“Inflight entertainment consisted of packs of playing cards or for those fortunate enough to be in First Class, watching the flight attendants carve the rack of lamb. It’s nothing near the thousand different film, TV, music and games options now available on our StudioCX inflight entertainment programme. But one thing remains true is to always provide the best service to our passengers,” he said.