Cathay Pacific cuts fare to lure passengers

Plans no reduction on Manila capacity

March 16, 2009

Hong-Kong - Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, is cutting fares and selling economy-class tickets in pancake prices just to lure travelers as demand plunged the most in more than three years last month.

“The market has collapsed,” Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler said. “We can fill flights, but we’re filling them at very low fares, fares that are frankly not sustainable in the long run.”

Cathay has suffered a rapid decline among premium travelers as a result of the global financial crisis. Banks and insurers have cut more than 280,000 jobs since the crisis began. Rising unemployment in the U.S., Europe and Asia has also cut tourism demand.

The airline had its first loss in ten years as the financial crisis cut demand for flights to London and New York among business class and first class travelers. A drop in passengers also prompted Singapore Airlines Ltd., Asia’s most profitable carrier, to cut its fleet by 17 planes in the year beginning in April.

So far they have no problems with their routes to Manila and Cebu as they are always filled with economy class passengers with international connection from its hub in Hong-Kong.

Cathay Pacific is the biggest foreign airline operator in the country having carried more than 1.2 million passengers in 2008. It plans to delay arrival of new planes and intends to review its long haul routes.

The airline had 10 planes due for delivery this year, and had 46 aircraft on firm order in total, including 21 Boeing 777-300ERs at the end of last year.

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