Could Cathay Pacific Launch A Vancouver To Miami Flight?

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

For years there have been rumors of Cathay Pacific considering launching flights to Miami. A nonstop flight would cover a distance of about 9,000 miles, so doesn’t seem economically feasible, especially given Cathay Pacific’s poor financial performance on longhaul flights.

However, there are some media reports suggesting that Cathay Pacific is hoping to launch flights from Hong Kong to Miami via Vancouver, which would require a renegotiation of the bilateral air agreement between Hong Kong and Canada. This is an interesting rumor that could make sense on a couple of levels.


For one, Cathay Pacific already operates two to three daily flights between Hong Kong and Vancouver, so extending one of those flights to Miami wouldn’t be that costly. Furthermore, Vancouver to Miami is a pretty big market that’s presently not served nonstop, and Cathay Pacific already flies from Vancouver to New York (which is without a doubt the most comfortable way to fly within North America).

The issue is that the bilateral air agreement between Hong Kong and Canada only allows for seven weekly flights between Canada and the United States, and those are already being used between Vancouver and New York. Given that the Canadian government is pretty protectionist when it comes to aviation, it seems unlikely that Cathay Pacific will be able to get those additional frequencies, though I could be wrong.


Perhaps it comes down to whether Cathay Pacific would be willing to cut their Vancouver to New York flight in favor of a Vancouver to Miami flight. Cathay Pacific operates four daily nonstop flights from Hong Kong to New York, so the Vancouver to New York flight is really doing more to serve those traveling within North America than anything else.

That being said, it’s my understanding that Cathay Pacific does pretty well with passengers traveling just between New York and Vancouver, so it’s unlikely they’d want to give that up in favor of a lower yielding route.

I’m curious to hear what you guys think — could a Vancouver to Miami Cathay Pacific tag flight make sense?

  1. I’d think they’d have better luck flying to Vegas than to Miami. Or to do a hkg->Mia->eze run.

    Is miami a big draw amongst the hk/china set?? I know Vegas is.

    Are British Columbians rushing to Miami when Hawaii is a closer destination??

  2. Air Canada and Cathay just entered that codeshare agreement (which I was surprised to see, due to each airline being a key player in two competing airline alliances).

    I wonder if Air Canada might encourage the Vancouver to Miami flight, with them codesharing on it. With their encouragement, the Canadian government would likely be on board.

    Not that I expect this to happen (in fact, I would be stunned), but again I was surprised to see these two airlines working together in the first place.

  3. It’s a big deal. Asia would love to get into Miami for access to South America and Panama . Get on one plane get off in Miami from hk. It would be excellent option.

  4. MIA-YVR-HKG would be amazing!! I travel to Vancouver several times a year and it is such a pain to get to. Now I am imagining doing it on Cathay…fingers crossed!

  5. May be it’s HKG-SFO-MIA. CX SFO flight is always full, may be this time they will add one more flight to SFO and continue to MIA.

  6. …except this “rumor” has been going around for a decade now. Nothing new that Miami airport is off talking about launching to Asia. That it gets reported on a pseudo news site doesn’t mean anything. HKG (usually via YVR, also heard YYZ, JFK and LAX) has only been one of MIA’s favorite talking points at literally every airshow in the last 10 years I’ve been in the industry.

  7. @ Louis — Well except they couldn’t sell seats on the domestic sector, so they’d be unlikely to fill the SFO-MIA flight.

  8. omg lucky you linked!! praise the lords for this miracle <3

    @bmlynn AC has no capable narrowbody aircraft. A320s cant go that far. they COULD fly a widebody there but.. why would they?

  9. Seems very logical for Cathay to switch to HKG-YVR-MIA. There is significant business demand for this market in addition to a fairly decent interest in the leisure market – Chinese investment in Miami as a center for capturing Latin American business has been booming. The only option for a nonstop would be to wait for Airbus build the (so far imaginary) A350-1000 ULR version or wait for their 777-9x orders to arrive in 2021.

    The addition of the HKG-EWR nonstop (in the denser 77G layout) probably added plenty of capacity to NYC area for them already.

  10. That’s not a “media report”. That’s just the standard pro-MIA “Miami” troll who works for the airport authority who attempts to claim credit for every single route launch while deflecting blame on every failed rumor, including accusations of how he was totally right on SAA but that yanked last minute so can’t be his fault.

  11. @Kerry : keeping JFK-YVR around for CX has looooong past the point of delivering passengers through to Asia. It’s about to JFK-YVR local O&D market, in which CX is very well established and has quite a loyal following.

    AC has already upped their YVR-EWR from the previous 319 to 788 and now to 789. Rest assured, if CX switches their authority to YVR-MIA, AC would be the first to pounce on to backfill the capacity (to stop DL in their tracks). CX would essentially giving up a well established and stable market in exchange for an untested one.

    People are reading far too much into the AC+CX friendship. The far lower risk option is for AC is test the waters with a narrowbody than CX to switch to MIA with nothing smaller than a 359 (currently YVR-JFK is flown by 4-class 77W with F service).

    A final point is that all those “Lat Am”connections are far too over-hyped. The cultural and business ties between HKG and LatAm are weak at best, non-existent at worst.

  12. Fingers crossed…! HKG-YVR-JFK is terrible–you have to stay put but they switch off A/C.. it only makes sense to do either sector , not both… Miami is different, I would totally suck it up and explore a new route. Miami can also serve as transfer hub for Latam..

  13. would love that. Can we please get a cathay flight from jfk to london and one to brussels as well.

  14. Out of interest, why would YVR-MIA be lower yielding? If you look at LH for example, flights to MIA are one of the higher yielding routs… and YVR-MIA would be monopolistic. Flights to NYC are a dime a dozen.

  15. @flying_foxy : no one said anything about lower yielding. I personally thinks, without any concrete industrial data, that it’s a volume issue. Even if any market exists, it’s split heavily between the YVR side loyal to AC and the MIA side loyal to AA/oneworld, so no matter who launches the flight, they would struggle to even fill their planes, since you have to bake in the assumption that those loyal to the rival airline/alliance would have little incentive to use your services unless prices are rock bottom.

    This “feels” like such an obvious low-hanging fruit I’m sure both airlines have periodic internal reports, possibly monthly, to simulate the potential profitability of such a launch, and appears to be the case that neither airline could justify the route launch.

    The CX talk is just all noise. They’re constantly “talking” to MIA airport authority just to see how much freebies they can squeeze out of them. If a route authority already makes business sense, you don’t need to “talk” anymore – you just do it.

  16. @henry LAX point taken on the established position of CX in the YVR-JFK O&D market.

    I think you misread my post however on LatAm ties – the point was there is a decent and growing interest in Miami/South Florida itself (read: property) as it has become a gateway to LatAm business. Between that and a healthy high-end tourism demand there is certainly a good enough market to make MIA the next logical choice for a CX North American expansion (over LAS for example), which is why they keep floating the idea in the first place.

    This would certainly be easier to do by adjusting their YVR schedule than with a nonstop, but whether it’s worth ditching their presence in the YVR-JFK market is a different question.

  17. The Canadian government is changing ht e”visa in transit” program to allow transit pax to walk off the plane and stay in the terminal. YVR has designed for this purpose. YVR is actively looking for and working on trans-Pacific transit traffic. So many mainland China based airlines flying and terminating at YVR, there are lots of potential pax to MIA.

    I fly YVR-JFK on CX a lot. It is usually 70% fullwith HKG-JFK pax. First Class is always full. Hard to get F seats for YVR-JFK and YVR-HKG.

  18. CX flies to LAX 4x a day. They have plentiful of connection opportunities to MIA, LAS, and all of the aforementioned cities that make a lot more sense than a connection at YVR.

  19. There’s absolutely no point in speculating on this. Cathay Pacific can fill their flights HKG-YVR nonstop today. They dont need any help from Miami to fill their planes. Adding passengers going MIA-YVR-HKG-(potentialy)-XXX to the mix would lower the yields on the key sector from YVR to HKG.
    The YVR-JFK sector is a relic of time when they didnt have the planes to fly nonstop HKG-JFK, and it apparently still is worthwhile to them, which kind of is sad. They really dont have a better way to use their aircraft from their hub? That’s very puzzling.
    There are already PLENTY of ways today to get from YVR to MIA. If the market were that big and worthwhile, then by now AA or AC would be flying it nonstop.
    There are plenty of ways to get to Latin America from all parts of Asia these days without depending on Miami. Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and others in the US, as well as Europe, as well as DXB/AUH/DOH, all offer great connectivity from all parts of Asia (Japan/China/Korea, etc) to all of South America with in many cases only one stop/ one change of plane, depending on where you are going. Stopping in Vancouver and Miami would add time to connections to Latin America, while in many cases in the busiest markets you can go one stop already, without the need to touch Miami.
    To get from Asia/Hong Kong to Miami proper there are TONS of options already, all with one stop. one change of planes.
    I highly doubt Cathay would do this. I could of course be proven wrong. But there are tons of ways to get there/ serve these markets today. This really wouldnt change the game so much. Nor do I feel Cathay could charge a premium for any of these sectors, as there already is plenty of capacity and options available in the market. And to make this financially viable they’d NEED to charge a premium, given the amount of resources they’d be throwing at this.

  20. There is one huge advantage to flying the existing HKG-YVR-JFK flight, which is its the only way to get a full day in a South China (Shenzhen etc) factory, get on a ferry, and then still make a Friday night flight out – so as painful as it is to stop in YVR, its better than staying overnight in HKG and getting into NY at 6AM instead of noon (when you take the 9:35AM Saturday flight).

  21. @henry LAX

    Looks like you’re just hating on the city and user Miami.

    Miami has been right several times so he’s no troll. MIA talks do get annoying but give the person credit. Not hate.

    Oh and there was a media report. It was just deleted because the report wasn’t really suppose to go out.

  22. There is another reason why this could be more than a rumor. Swire Properties (real estate developer) is investing big in Miami, they just opened Brickell City Center. Swire Properties is owned by Hong Kong based Swire Group, which also owns Cathay Pacific. They have been pushing for a flight MIA- HKG for a while.

  23. @Alex

    Exactly. It’s been a long rumor but the time to launch it can’t be better.

    I think it could be a win-win.

    CX went out publicly to say the want to fly to MIA with the perfect aircraft. So it’s no secret they want to fly to MIA.

  24. Lucky if you ever actually worked for an airline you’d see what a foolish and uniformed assertion that MIA-YVR-HKG would be low yielding. CXs parent Swire owns several buildings in Brickell and has other presence in South Florida. A route like this would price better than NY especially with flow and feed onto AAs Caribbean and Latin network. You’re entitled to your opinion but save the analysis for those of us who actually legitimately work in the industry.

  25. @ Mahesh Vasnani Even if one is a through passenger, one must disembark in YVR and wait in the terminal before reboarding and continuing to the US.

  26. But guys… you all said that it would be good because of the Latin Network. But why would I want to take a flight to Asia that does XXX-MIA-YVR-HKG?

    I would because I like to fly. But most people would prefer to do XXX-LAX-HKG, or XXX-DFW-HKG, or XXX-SFO-HKG, or XXX-JFK-HKG, don’t you think?

  27. @George – read what I wrote. There are MANY better ways to get from Asia to South America already. don’t need to touch Miami. And @ Josh G – just because somebody owns a building in one city doesn’t mean that there is high yield traffic. this would be a dumpster fire of a route.

  28. I love the HKG – Vancouver – JFK flight. Leaves HKG late and arrives at 6am – no lines at immigration, customs or for cars…. arrive for breakfast in Manhattan. Just wish CX would have refreshments during the security screaning in Vancouver…. but otherwise, a great flight.

    Cant imagine CX will sell premium seats HKG to MIA… Chinese done like sun…


  29. @ Kerry – no one from HKG have any interest to fly through MIA in order to get to Latin America or South America, they fly through Europe period. One of the biggest drawback is the policy of CBP. Anyone transit through US require a US visa, while transit through Europe does not, not to mention there is no time saving neither. For people want to go to south america from Hong Kong, they can also connect through Australia as well.

    Also, not sure where do you get the “high end leisure traffic” for MIA, people that want the beach and sun from Asia will go to Hawaii if not Guam, it is much closer and no one want their vacation eat it by 4 days total just in transit. Hawaii certainly get the “high end leisure traffic” but certainly not Miami.

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