Cathay Pacific Hints At Next US Destination

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific likes to have some fun with announcing new routes. They just posted on Twitter asking people to guess what their next destination will be. They do this by sharing a crossword puzzle with the name of nine US cities.

They name the following nine cities:

  • Austin
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Honolulu
  • Houston
  • Las Vegas
  • Miami
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle

As an airline geek I love the games Cathay Pacific plays prior to announcing new routes. So, which route is Cathay Pacific most likely to start service to? I feel confident in my guess, so first let me share the reasons I don’t think they’re starting service to eight of these cities:

  • Austin — while this is a growing market that has been getting new longhaul service, Cathay Pacific would be the first Asian airline to fly there, and I don’t think they’d do that given how conservative they are with their US growth; I do think an Asian airline will eventually fly to Austin, but I don’t think Cathay Pacific will be the first
  • Dallas — American already operates this route, and given that American and Cathay Pacific don’t have a transpacific joint venture, this seems unlikely
  • Denver — While Denver is quite sizable, it’s also a United hub, so Cathay Pacific would have virtually no connectivity there
  • Honolulu — While some other Asian carriers are incredibly successful with flights to Hawaii, generally Hawaii has the most tourists from Japan and Korea, so I think this is unlikely to be Cathay Pacific’s next destination
  • Houston — Much like Denver, Houston is a large market, but it’s a United hub, so Cathay Pacific would have little connectivity here
  • Las Vegas — While there’s significant demand for Las Vegas, this is a pretty low yield destination, so I just don’t see this happening
  • Miami — Miami Airport has been trying to get service from an Asian airline for years; airport officials recently revealed that a flight from Tokyo on Japan Airlines is most likely, suggesting to me that a Cathay Pacific flight isn’t happening anytime soon
  • Salt Lake City — This is a Delta hub, so it just seems unlikely to me that Cathay Pacific would fly here

I feel confident that Cathay Pacific will announce flights to Seattle. Maybe that’s just partly be doubling down on having speculated this a few weeks ago, when I said that I think Cathay Pacific will announce service to Seattle within the coming months.

Why is Seattle an obvious choice?

  • Seattle is a growing US market that has seen a ton of longhaul expansion
  • Seattle is the closest lower 48 US city to Asia, meaning the flight time is shortest, and therefore operating costs are lowest
  • Cathay Pacific has a partnership with Alaska Airlines, so they’d have a ton of connectivity
  • Delta just announced that they’re discontinuing their flight between Seattle and Hong Kong, so Cathay Pacific would have a monopoly (and unlike Delta I think they could make the route work, given that they’d have connectivity from all kinds of other points in Asia, and beyond)
  • In the past when Cathay Pacific hinted at their next US destination they also mentioned Seattle, which suggests to me that this is a destination that has been on their radar

So my money is on Cathay Pacific shortly announcing flights to Seattle. I’d give it 90% odds. But I could also be wrong…

What destination do you think Cathay Pacific will announce flights to?

  1. I agree that Seattle makes the most sense but, selfishly, would love for it to be Houston. Feels strange there is no direct IAH-HKG flight on any airline, even United.

  2. I’m hoping for Dallas and a 777. I will offer to buy an F ticket on the first flight to get them to come. Beats flying AAs terrible soft product.

  3. I agree with Lucky’s logic that Seattle is the most likely choice. However, if I had a second choice it would be Honolulu. With the rapidly growing middle class in greater China and South-East Asia looking for holiday destinations, Hawaii’s Asian tourist market is shifting with more and more Chinese coming. It’s still clearly dominated by Japanese and to a lesser extent, Korean tourists, but I feel this is changing. When I lived in Singapore and wanted to visit Hawaii, it necessitated going all the way up to Japan first… but more and more non-Japanese/Korean carriers are flying the HNL route now including Taiwan’s China Airlines and Air China and China Eastern.

  4. I’m hoping it’s Honolulu. As Justin says a rapidly growing market for South East Asia. From a personal perspective I’d love to get there on CATHAY rather than all the connecting flights I have to choose from at the moment as a Hong Kong resident

  5. Is HKG-HNL much shorter? Probably not much, you are looking at more then 10 hours flight. According to Great Circle Mapper, HKG-HNL and HKF-FRA are quite similar in distance.

  6. Seattle. They can cover other us cities leveraging their relationship w Alaska. Then all major NA Pacific Rim would be covered by CX.

  7. @ Stvr – no it is not, perhaps you are confused with Guam. From Guam to HNL is already 8 hours, and Guam to HKG is 4 hours, so do your math.

    There are few HKers would go to HNL for vacations, one flight is long and not able to accomplish for a weekend trip compare to Thailand, second Hawaii is expensive for EVERYTHING, even if i dont go to Thailand, it would be much closer to go to Guam compare to Hawaii, you are looking for a 12 or 13 hours flight from HKG to HNL

  8. I think Seattle makes the most sense. Houston’s large Asian and Asian-American population would probably love such a service, but it’d be an uphill battle considering the Star Alliance dominance.

  9. I agree, the logical choice is SEA, but I wish it was ATL. There are no direct Oneworld or Star Alliance options to Asia out of ATL at all. Delta goes to ICN and NRT, and Korean goes to ICN. As far as I know, that’s it. It’s likely near impossible to get a gate at ATL under Delta’s watchful eye, but I hope to have more options someday.

  10. I just love it when people think that you will fly over Hawaii when flying between Asia and North America.

    Dear Gong nui, West coast is not like East coast but happy digging.

  11. Miami? They might as well say Grand Junction. We all known CX won’t be flying to Miami. Too far, not enough connections, etc. I’m putting my money on Dallas, Houston and Seattle. The first two would have excellent connectivity to South America, a sizeable market. The latter would have nice access to NA and would add capacity to Asia.

    LAS is out too. The only point to go there are the casinos and nightlife. You can have that in Macau…

  12. I wouldn’t rule out Denver or Houston due to United. United sells me tickets on Cathay going to Manila. While it may not be a large agreement, they have something in place on select routes already.

  13. Disagree… Personal interactions with Cathay pilots and management as well as quotes in News and media have indicated HNL is a cherry they’ve been waiting to pick for several years.

    Delta just pulled out of SEA with all its connections couldn’t make it profitable so CX is a non-starter…

  14. @ Andrew — Delta couldn’t make Hong Kong work because they had virtually zero connecting traffic beyond HKG. So the route was exclusively intended to serve HKG from all over the US. In Cathay Pacific’s case, they’d have connectivity on both ends, thanks to their network in Hong Kong, and Alaska’s network in Seattle. They’d be much better positioned than Delta was.

    That being said, guess we’ll see if your Honolulu guess rings true. Anything is possible!

  15. @Jack
    Most likely just an interline agreement between UA and CX; I’ve seen DL sell NH domestic Japan tickets before, despite those two belonging in rival alliances.

  16. my guess would be LV as a large population in HK and China are gambling addicts and LV is a go-to place.

  17. Seattle probably makes most sense but I wouldn’t outright dismiss HNL. Apart from Korean & Japan, it’s a big market from Philippines and more and more tourism from mainland China.

  18. @pho tastee
    I know some gamblers and I know from those ‘addicts’, Macau is much better than Vegas for the ‘addicts’. You go to Vegas for vacation, you go to Macau to gamble.

  19. Ben… I think you’re missing a lot of key information on Miami. Over 70% of landing slots are controlled by One World airlines (AA and Latam) making it a great city to connect to the southeast, Caribbean and Latam, and SWIRE, a major shareholder in Cathay has been developing real estate aggressively for years, including an EAST hotel, several skyscrapers, an artificial island made from reclaimed sea (with a Mandarin Oriental and all), and a high-end shopping mall

  20. I really hope so. As a Chinese living in Seattle I find it annoying to see all major Chinese airlines(CA, CZ, MU) only have flights to YVR and SFO while ignoring SEA.

  21. The feed beyond HKG is what is necessary for the route to survive. I’ve lived in Seattle for 28 years and have seen carriers such as UA, NW and now DL try the route and then pull it. They may have before feed from the US but beyond is what is really necessary! Bring it on CX! I hope you will select Seattle as your next destination!

  22. The lack of a CX/AA JV on HKG-DFW is precisely why they might want to open the route, not a reason for not opening it. I doubt its next in line before SEA, but it would open good connection possibilities to South America which CX really lacks . . . and with AA cutting back their Brazil routes in JFK CX needs to find ways to maintain easy connections to these destinations.

  23. It could be one of the three Texas destinations. Seattle is too close to Vancouver, which Cathay Pacific already flies to.

  24. @ Juan — I totally agree it could make sense, but the reason I don’t think it’s happening is because the airport has been aggressively looking for an Asian carrier to start service, and they’ve made it clear that Cathay Pacific isn’t interested.

  25. How many of us would have dismissed IAD on the same basis that people are now dismissing DEN and IAH? There are a number of other US ports through which CX can feed US connecting traffic; as someone said upstream, it is the connections beyond HKG that will be the deciding factor.

  26. Your logic seems flawless, but I hope its HNL and if not HNL, then SEA would be great .. more lift, more availability if we can figure out how to book it.


  27. RE: Seattle. Would be friggin’ sweet to finally be able to get out to Asia from Atlanta on an all Alaska award outside of the Hainan flight.

  28. Not sure about SEA as opposed to HNL or another city…… CX already has 2x daily service out of near-by YVR that they could feed from SEA via frequent Alaska connections? CX frequently discounts fares ex-YVR to HKG and must be looking to increase their loads. (Only negative apart from a short-hop connection SEA-YVR is that CDN government taxes might take the shine off the yield/utilization attraction of filling YVR flights?)

  29. Anchorage (ANC) is the closest mainland US city to Asia. From a point-to-point demand standpoint Las Vegas looks appealing. Of course DFW provides the best connectivity with Cathay’s OneWorld partners. Even without a joint venture agreement, not having a Cathay flight to DFW seems odd.

    How would a flight to SEA affect business at other Cathay North American destinations such as YVR? SEA is also a Delta hub. Knowing the frequency of flights and equipment would be helpful in speculating on the destination.

  30. I want Miami as it will allow us in New Zealand and Australia almost direct access to Miami plus the Caribbean . Shame it will be Seattle but we can only but dream.

  31. If it’s Seattle, I wonder if they would build a lounge. All the current lounge options would be woefully inadequate IMO.

  32. HNL might be a good destination for Hong Kong Airlines, which seems to be more focused on the tourist market.

  33. Just received an email from Cathay’s Marco Polo Club confirming the 4 times a week HKG – SEA route beginning Mar 31 2019. Eastbound flight will be on 2 4 6 7 and westbound flight will be on 1 3 5 7

  34. Seattle it is with the A350-900 4X weekly, cool. The Delta flight is daily with a 777-200. I still think SEA might have a problem being so close to YVR, which for customs and immigration purposes is part of the US anyway.

  35. I am really hoping for DEN. We barley have any overseas flights, the only ones being: DEN-LHR, DEN-LGW, DEN-RKV, and DEN-NRT. I think the fact that I can memorize all of the routes should prove it.

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