7 July, 2024

Set route ‘optimism’

THE probability of Cathay Pacific restoring a year-round regular route to Cairns from Hong Kong was clearly in the air at the launch of seasonal services last week.

By Nick Dalton

Cathay Pacific will operate an A330 on its seasonal services to Cairns.
Cathay Pacific will operate an A330 on its seasonal services to Cairns.

The 14 flights in the festive season and through the Chinese New Year is expected to lead to permanent services after the Hong Kong-based airline pulled out of Cairns nearly five years ago.

Cairns Airport chief executive Richard Barker said from now until the flights in December the airline had six months to market and sell the route and, just as important, book freight space on the A330 for fresh seafood and produce.

He said the commitment by Cathay Pacific to the seasonal flights “laid the seeds for the future”.

Mr Barker said a year-round service would require 70 per cent passenger volumes and solid freight tonnage.

He said a top-level delegation to Hong Kong last year involving Tourism Minister Michael Healy, as well as airport, tourism and business senior executives, were the catalyst as well as funding from the state government’s aviation investment fund for the seasonal services. 

Mr Barker said it was “a bold decision by Cathay Pacific to come back early and gain a good foothold”.

He said he was “very confident that Cathay Pacific would quickly re-establish its presence”.

Mr Barker said Cathay Pacific’s good connections to Europe and the USA would be ideal for northern hemisphere travellers avoiding their winter to holiday in the tropics.

Cathay Pacific southwest Pacific regional general manager Frosti Lau said Cairns was the third new seasonal service by the airline since COVID, the others being to Barcelona and Christchurch.

He said how the seasonal services performed would provide the basis for “long term viability” and “the good foundations for future services”.


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