Will Cathay Pacific Ever Recover?

Will Cathay Pacific Ever Recover?

115

While airlines around the globe have been put to the test during the pandemic, I don’t think there’s a major airline in the world that has been hit as hard as Cathay Pacific. That make me sad for a variety of reasons — Hong Kong is (or was?) one of my favorite cities in the world, and Cathay Pacific is one of my favorite airline brands.

With Cathay Pacific continuing to suffer, I can’t help but wonder when the Cathay Pacific that I used to love will be the same, if ever…

Why Cathay Pacific has been hit so hard by the pandemic

Cathay Pacific already started suffering before the pandemic shut down global travel, as major protests in Hong Kong prevented many people from traveling there. Then the pandemic hit. I’m trying to keep this as non-political as possible, but:

  • Hong Kong has been closed to visitors since the start of the pandemic, and those returning to Hong Kong have to undergo a 21-day quarantine in a facility
  • Cathay Pacific passenger demand has been incredibly low; for example, in November 2021, Cathay Pacific carried 70,047 passengers, which is an 85.2% increase over November 2020, but a 97.3% decrease over November 2019
  • While there’s still major cargo demand, Cathay Pacific has been struggling with this due to stricter quarantine requirements for pilots, to the point that the airline is temporarily suspending long haul cargo flights
  • With China increasingly reigning in Hong Kong, it’s clear that the priority is allowing free travel between Hong Kong and mainland China, rather than allowing free travel between Hong Kong and the rest of the world
  • While even the most conservative countries when it comes to coronavirus have started to outline paths to reopening borders, we’ve seen nothing of the sort from China, and one wonders if the 21-day quarantine might just stick around and act as a long-term way to isolate the country and restrict movement
Cathay Pacific passenger numbers are down 97.3%

What would it take for Cathay Pacific to recover?

For most airlines there’s a pretty clear path to a recovery, even if the airlines aren’t at that point yet. The challenge with Cathay Pacific is that Hong Kong’s future is also very much in limbo. Will Hong Kong continue to be a global business hub open to the world with few restrictions, or is that highly unlikely?

I’m not convinced we’ll ever be able to freely travel through Hong Kong again on Cathay Pacific, at least not in the way we did in the past. Cathay Pacific has great lounges, an excellent onboard product, friendly employees, and Hong Kong is a delight to transit through (or at least was pre-pandemic), and I’d sure miss not being able to travel through Hong Kong again in the future.

A lot would need to change for Cathay Pacific to see any sort of significant recovery:

  • Hong Kong would need to ease its 21-day quarantine, so that Hong Kong is again practically accessible from people around the globe
  • Cathay Pacific’s route network would need to be restored significantly, with fewer restrictions around transit, so that people can travel on Cathay Pacific between other countries
Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777 first class

It’s anyone’s guess what happens here. Of course I hope that Cathay Pacific fully recovers some day, but to me it seems much more likely that the airline will have a limited global network, and be a lot more focused on flights to & from mainland China.

The whole thing makes me sad. Hong Kong is such a dynamic city with incredible people, and I fear that it’ll never be the same.

And along those lines I can’t help but ask how much longer Cathay Pacific can stay in business while dealing with these market conditions. Cathay Pacific’s ownership structure is a bit complicated and there are also political implications there, so again, it’s hard to make sense of how much longer the losses can continue.

Cathay Pacific’s future depends on Hong Kong’s future

Bottom line

Cathay Pacific has been hit extremely hard by the pandemic, reflecting the greater issue of mainland China trying to exert more control over Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a 21-day quarantine, and now the airline is even restricted with the cargo flights that it can operate.

I adore Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific, and I really hope there’s eventually a return to normal. I’m not confident, though. No matter what, I’ll always cherish the time I’ve spent in Hong Kong and on Cathay Pacific.

I’m curious what OMAAT readers think — do you think we’ll ever see a full recovery at Cathay Pacific, or have things changed forever?

Conversations (115)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Jeff meide Guest

    My sentiments exactly!

  2. Tony Broughton Guest

    I have flown CP since 1970 and it has always been the best in the world, surpassing even SIA. I hope they find a solution, they always done so in the past.
    Tony Broughton

  3. Hans Buijnsters Guest

    Unfortunately many comments on this article are politically motivated. I have flown with Cathay Pacific numerous times over the past 40 years and can only state that they are one of the best airlines. I can only hope that they will survive in the turbulent times. All the best to the staff of Cathay Pacific, one of my favourite airlines

  4. KSLong Guest

    Who cares about Cathay Pacific whether it is to diminish from the airline industry. It's better to let such pro western entity goes bankrupt sooner the better.

    1. Jan Guest

      Democracy is bad?

      So why are you availing yourself of free speech bud?

  5. Anthony Guest

    Hong Kong people have been awake since the handover to China in 1997. I lived there then, 20 years to be exact in total from the 80's.

    Sadly Hong Kong is gone, it is not a democracy, never was really, but was working towards one as a colony of the British, yes a colony.

    But it all got smashed in 1997.

    The Stand publication was raided recently as was Apple Daily before and...

    Hong Kong people have been awake since the handover to China in 1997. I lived there then, 20 years to be exact in total from the 80's.

    Sadly Hong Kong is gone, it is not a democracy, never was really, but was working towards one as a colony of the British, yes a colony.

    But it all got smashed in 1997.

    The Stand publication was raided recently as was Apple Daily before and forced to close by the China govt. It's a dictatorship now, plain and simple.

    China Govt never did like Cathay Pacific, owned and operated by the Brits. It's not a surprise of the harsh treatment it receives.

    Hong Kong is no longer a free place, nothing like it was before. That's a fact not an opinion. I would not go there.

  6. Yat-Ho Lai Guest

    It is hard not to be political when now talking about HK's future whether politically and economically. No matter what the future of HK is just doom and gloom. I'm not being pessimistic, I'm just being realistic. It is hard to be optimistic with what's happening to HK when every decision that the HK government makes is entirely looking only into China, a very narrow view. Finally with what global relationship between US and China...

    It is hard not to be political when now talking about HK's future whether politically and economically. No matter what the future of HK is just doom and gloom. I'm not being pessimistic, I'm just being realistic. It is hard to be optimistic with what's happening to HK when every decision that the HK government makes is entirely looking only into China, a very narrow view. Finally with what global relationship between US and China is at its lowest, I don't think Cathay Pacific will survive any longer. What a pity. As a Hongkonger I'm deeply sadden by what has happened over the past ten years. I think it takes more than a miracle to go back to what it was when I grew up during the 80s and 90s. God bless HK.

  7. Jkjkjk Guest

    To those who says, Singapore is the next HK. You’re right! Authoritarian is the way to go. XJP, late DXP and late LKY are the best leaders ever. Hongkies and westerner. Take that. Without “democracy” and freedom of speech, press or public assembly like Singapore you can still succeed. Long live PAP and CPC! Westerner, if you come to Singapore don’t bring chaos with you!

    1. Jan Guest

      So why are you posting then? (if you don't believe in free speech)

      The hypocrisy is astounding.

  8. Alexander Elnekaveh Guest

    So sad becuse Cathy was best to fly with Amex points.

  9. PeterM Guest

    @Nate's comments reflect my own experience. First CX cancelled the YVR-HKG leg of my return trip to Mel(Au), then rebooked it five days earlier with no thought for my connecting flight and left me with a five day transit in HKG as leaving the airport requires 21 days quarantine.
    Then they cancelled all HKG-MEL flights and failed to inform customers. That also removed the capabilty to manage the booking online.
    Their Whatsapp service...

    @Nate's comments reflect my own experience. First CX cancelled the YVR-HKG leg of my return trip to Mel(Au), then rebooked it five days earlier with no thought for my connecting flight and left me with a five day transit in HKG as leaving the airport requires 21 days quarantine.
    Then they cancelled all HKG-MEL flights and failed to inform customers. That also removed the capabilty to manage the booking online.
    Their Whatsapp service only works on days starting with x and when the chatbot finally connects you to Customer "Care" it can be hours before there is a response. If you finally converse with an agent they are powerless and ask you to check back in 8 hours for the response from some other department that handles rebookings, cancellation quotes and toilet paper supplies..
    This was all on a paid business class fare.
    After ten days of trying to get CX to rebook me on another Oneworld airline such as Qantas I just gave up, cancelled anyway and used points to book AC YVR-SYD. As a UA 1K this was my first and sadly last experience with CX. The inflight experience was outstanding, but the rest just sucks.

  10. Jose Reyes Guest

    I will never ever take Cathay Pacific ever again because of China's takeover of HK.

    1. kimshep Guest

      Sure .. let's penalize a world class carrier simply because the Government of the country they operate in imposed policies which are germane to the entire population. Your comment looks even more spurious in that Cathay was founded by an American and an Australian.

      To be truly effective, if you're going down the boycott path, then you should put a hammer through your Foxconn made Apple iPhone, and seriously look at where much of your...

      Sure .. let's penalize a world class carrier simply because the Government of the country they operate in imposed policies which are germane to the entire population. Your comment looks even more spurious in that Cathay was founded by an American and an Australian.

      To be truly effective, if you're going down the boycott path, then you should put a hammer through your Foxconn made Apple iPhone, and seriously look at where much of your electronics / electrics / consumer 'junk' is made. Single out one boycott company only? Doesn't do squat.

    2. Jkjkjk Guest

      Takeover? They were always part of China Mr. Reyes. Learn some history moron.

    3. Jan Guest

      That’s a bit of a simplistic take, and it’s dishonest to dismiss the “One country, two systems”.

  11. CK Guest

    The commies want to take over Cathay. This has been on their agenda since 1997July01. Cathay will still exist but may or may not change name. The company will be ruled by party officials

  12. Joe van der Fiets Guest

    I agree with the article as a whole, although I did not follow the viability of Cathay Pacific.
    I made a point of visiting Hong Kong, (with Cathay Pacific) for the last time in 1997, prior to be handed over to China. I did it believing (and still do), that Hong Kong as a whole and it's wonderful people, would never be the same again once China would take hold of it, and I...

    I agree with the article as a whole, although I did not follow the viability of Cathay Pacific.
    I made a point of visiting Hong Kong, (with Cathay Pacific) for the last time in 1997, prior to be handed over to China. I did it believing (and still do), that Hong Kong as a whole and it's wonderful people, would never be the same again once China would take hold of it, and I have been proven right. British were incredibly naïve (or not) with the 50 year period China granted and the conditions they would see through.
    China is not my model country, neither it's system, and while I still maintain contact with acquaintances there, I am afraid I'll never visit China again and neither Hong Kong, for the lifestyle, in all terms, I like and used to appreciate in KH, is gone forever.

    1. CPCLovingHongkiesIndo Guest

      Your dutch east indies committed much worse crimes in south east asia. So stop with your non sense. Hongkies are happy to be integrated with China with law and order…

  13. Craig Guest

    I doubt very much if Cathay will recover. The most likely scenario is that one of the mainland Chinese airlines will scoop up Cathay in a fire sale, with full support of the CCP. As for Hong Kong being a major transit hub, that too is in the past.

  14. Nate Guest

    Cathay is treating its passengers woefully and I wonder if it will be able to recover its reputation. It has provided zero assistance and has left me stranded. It is not even prepared to work with its OneWorld partners to get its passengers home. Promised callbacks don’t materials; employees are not empowered to make decisions with everything being referred back to a central Flight Disruptions team which only works business hours M-F; requests repeatedly denied...

    Cathay is treating its passengers woefully and I wonder if it will be able to recover its reputation. It has provided zero assistance and has left me stranded. It is not even prepared to work with its OneWorld partners to get its passengers home. Promised callbacks don’t materials; employees are not empowered to make decisions with everything being referred back to a central Flight Disruptions team which only works business hours M-F; requests repeatedly denied for no reasons; downgraded and no compensation offered. Pretty shitty right over the festive period but of course I can claim a refund for the unused portion and fork out for a last minute one way ticket at 2/3 a return price. Never again Cathay!

  15. LeBron James Guest

    A lot of people commenting here that aren't well educated on the situation and should be more careful about what they post. A lot of people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually.

    1. Jan Guest

      Thanks for the mind control big daddy. /s

      Sounds like threats almost.

      People have a right to speak, thats why we have language.

  16. Kerry a Byrd Guest

    I have over the years had some of my most incredible flights On cathay pacific. I visited Hong Kong several times a year for 20 plus years. Regent hotels intercon Great memories both Hong Kong and penninsula and Cathay pacific. A sad world we have become KA Byrd

  17. Tony S Guest

    Cathay need to move home base to survive. Great airline but China doesn't want them.

  18. Moulay Guest

    As they are unprofessional they will be rejected away from sky market

  19. Skdxb Member

    For me, it looks like a very well planned political move carefully charted out in stages...sadly the common ones are those who will suffer and pay the price...

  20. warren h Guest

    My wife daughter and I love holidaying in H.K.we have been for the last 10years the last 2years we have transited through H.K. to london,hopefully we may get going again in late 2022 Cathay staff are the best stay strong all Cathay staff we will get back in the air.

    1. RS Guest

      I miss Cathay Pacific & Honk Kong as it was. Before retiring to Thailand in 2005, lived in Hawaii for 30+ yrs. For visits to Asia, I'd usually catch a cheap seat to the US West coast in order to fly CP with sweet stopover in HK both ways. Many in and outs from old Kai Tak. After relocating, happily continued with Cathay on twice yearly visits to the US.
      Sadly, I think Beijing has deliberatly cut both the City and it's flagship airline off at the knees.

  21. Timo Gold

    Hong Kong is probably my most favorite city outside the US. I've been sad about its fate since pre-pandemic democracy marches and Beijing's heavy-handed control. I miss traveling around Asia and Hong Kong was usually my transit point. Neither Singapore nor Shanghai have the physical beauty to match HKG.

    1. Jkjkjk Guest

      Asia is more than Singapore and Shanghai. There are country side of china or india or indonesia that’s much more beautiful physically if that what matters to you. I can’t believe how can anyone’s favorite city be the US. US excels in suburban planning but the cities can suck balls.

  22. Captain Rod Hardman Guest

    Don't think CP will recover because it is a symbol of "old Hong Kong" and all that that represents. Pres. for life Xi Jinping and his CCP pals are doing all they can to kill off Cathay

  23. glenn t Diamond

    Cathay Pacific's glory days are in the past.
    There is a deliberate strategy by China to slowly emasculate Cathay (and HK generally) and what better cover than a pandemic to justify the actions which have been imposed in the last few years.
    Cathay will eventually be subsumed into whichever state-controlled mainland airline Beijing chooses.

  24. Liam Guest

    I agree that HK is and will be different now. But I think whether it’ll be a death sentence or not will be dependent on how China and Hong Kong manage the transition. I wouldn’t call it time if death yet.

    Yes, Hong Kong was successful because of its policy and freedom. But don’t forget what made Hong Kong successful was also because companies wanted an easy access to China. Without China HK wouldn’t become...

    I agree that HK is and will be different now. But I think whether it’ll be a death sentence or not will be dependent on how China and Hong Kong manage the transition. I wouldn’t call it time if death yet.

    Yes, Hong Kong was successful because of its policy and freedom. But don’t forget what made Hong Kong successful was also because companies wanted an easy access to China. Without China HK wouldn’t become the HK today. HK’s need for a transition is long time coming, now that China has became more prominent.

    I hated to see HK’s current political transition. But the trade off of that is an economic transition to be more integrated into Chinese economy, and at the same time, be less reliance on western economies. If China plays its cards right, it may not be a loss for the city in terms of economy and prominence.

    No matter what HK becomes, it will still be more “open” than Shanghai and Beijing. And yet I don’t see people chanting doom on Shanghai or Beijing but rather see foreign investment on china accelerating

    As Mainland China has no real first class airline on a world stage, maybe Cathay is exactly the one that can fill that role.

    1. Jkjkjk Guest

      Very objective. But imo HK is a better place with China’s more handson involvement. The lack of law and order was terrifying. As an ethnic chinese not from HK or mainland China, you could be easily targeted for speaking your mind despite them standing for “freedom of speech”.
      For me HK need to be smart and outsmart Beijing like Singapore. Authoritarian leadership, no freedom of speech, press or public assembly and at the same time, very business savvy.

  25. Lin Guest

    It would be hard. Unfortunately Cathay crew are not as nice to non Caucasian ones, esp Asian, they can be quite unfriendly. Same to HKers, they can be some if the rudest in Asia. They have long road to recover very, my love and hate relationship with Cathay, live their lounges, best of the lounge food, live signature drinks and premium food, but it world not be close to before Aug 2021

  26. Mark Guest

    See the HKG Premier is blaming Cathay for bringing Omicron to HKG .

  27. Chris Guest

    Cathay without a shadow of doubt was a great product. However times change and yes everything has an expiration date. Perhaps we are here or maybe magically the world just starts flying again. Great article thank you.

  28. Josh Guest

    Just a few words of advice to Cathay employees.... GET YOUR RESUME REVISED AND START APPLYING FOR OTHER JOBS!! This airline is basically finished! Will not last past 2022 with current conditions and these conditions seem to be getting worse. Also throw into the mix a possible upcoming Russian invasion into Ukraine and the entire world could be thrown upside down. GET READY!

  29. Steve Guest

    Glad I had a chance to try CX F LAX-HKG a few years ago and glad I had a chance to visit the city under better times. Have no interest in visiting again.

  30. Mark Guest

    I'm done with HKG, and China. Yes, I consider them separate. I will fly to Taiwan for my next trip to China.

    1. Eliyahu Guest

      This is what I've been thinking for awhile but was unable to articulate.

    2. BBK Diamond

      They are (were) absolutely separate. They have their own flag, currency and especially modus-vivendi. Heck as a Venezuelan I could even go to HK without a visa and not mainland (which I don't intend to do, ever, while the communists rule there).

  31. PaulS Guest

    The overarching issue is the PRC's suppression of Hong Kong's population. Their not-so-secret plan to crush it into a backwater undesirable destination is being undertaken daily. (Although crushing Hong Kong will never raise any Chinese city to the Hong Kong's level of sophistication and worldliness.). What the PRC fails to see is that Hong Kong is special because of it's freedoms and people. No amount of luxury cars and name brand clothes will ever take...

    The overarching issue is the PRC's suppression of Hong Kong's population. Their not-so-secret plan to crush it into a backwater undesirable destination is being undertaken daily. (Although crushing Hong Kong will never raise any Chinese city to the Hong Kong's level of sophistication and worldliness.). What the PRC fails to see is that Hong Kong is special because of it's freedoms and people. No amount of luxury cars and name brand clothes will ever take them up to Hong Kong's level.

  32. Brian Guest

    Be political!!!

    I have loved my time in Hong Kong but refuse to travel there until the government changes.

    For me, I’ll spend my money elsewhere and I hope my little bit of tax revenue not being spent there can be amplified by others doing the same.

  33. Carl Guest

    CCP has eviscerated most everything that made HK special. I think there was always a certain jealousy about HK and China wants BJ and SH to be the principal cities. Good-Bye Hong Kong, it was wonderful knowing you.

    I expect a long-term decline. HK doesn't have natural resources nor land for manufacturing. It was a trade city and a headquarters and financial city with freedom and rule of law. It's all gone to be...

    CCP has eviscerated most everything that made HK special. I think there was always a certain jealousy about HK and China wants BJ and SH to be the principal cities. Good-Bye Hong Kong, it was wonderful knowing you.

    I expect a long-term decline. HK doesn't have natural resources nor land for manufacturing. It was a trade city and a headquarters and financial city with freedom and rule of law. It's all gone to be subjugated by the CCP. So there is nothing left to make HK special. It's sad. Probably will not be reversed in my lifetime. It will take regime change in China to restore HK.

    1. Skdxb Member

      Very well said....couldn't agree more...really sad...HKG had a charm of its own which will be now a story to be told to the younger generations...

  34. Qi Guest

    Macau set an example to have quarantine free travel with mainland China and it seems that Hong Kong government is set to follow that.
    It's unfortunate some pilot breaking rules causing the latest variant to spread and subsequent quarantine rules changes and flight cancellations.

    1. Noah Guest

      Check out the paid Chinese government shill

    2. Chris Guest

      CCP boot licker… How does it feel like to regurgitate what tou are told to…?

  35. Max Guest

    Quarantine also has quite a decent shot at not going away completely, because the pandemic isn't over? Many countries are reaching record case numbers as we reach the 2 year mark of the pandemic :/

  36. Steve S Guest

    Just an FYI, Netflix purchased movie or show based on Cathay. I got a notification about it today. Its called Triumph in the Skies and goes live on Jan 20 (can't remember which or both show n movie were made) but anyway I remember watching it while bored years ago. Can't remember if it's good. Probably not though but hey it's based on Cathay when they were in their heyday lol

  37. just tanner Guest

    As a Captain of CX do you know something we have not been told, we have neem told the airline is not going under, also look at the ownership of CX, its part of Swire, please dont worry people this is how gossip starts.

    1. BigG Guest

      A captain of CX would use proper English. Thanks 50 cent army

  38. Jcil Guest

    Maybe worthy of their own post, but I would add Air New Zealand to the list of airlines that may never recover to their glory days.

  39. John Guest

    It's finally nice to see someone that treats their clients very poorly is going in the wrong direction I hope they keep going that way piss poor customer service and they'll idea and they never give your money back to you

    1. Jan Guest

      I echo most of the commenters’ thoughts here. I was planning to go to HKG every year as it was my most favorite int’l city at the time, unfortunately even without Covid HK would eventually go to the shitter. Oh well. That goes without saying that CX would also eventually deteriorate.

  40. David Guest

    I loved visiting Hong Kong also. I see Hong Kong as a no go zone now. I think China would love to put Cathy Pacific out of business. If Cathy Pacific is to survive they need to move to another country.

  41. tipsyinmadras Member

    So sad to see how Hong Kong has suffered since ‘97. Hindsight being what it is, it really seems that CX should’ve hedged its bets in the 90s by starting operations elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

  42. Mike Guest

    It really is sad. I believe it was about 1 year ago that Cathay offered some bonus to transfer in miles. I moved in several hundred thousand miles, eagerly anticipating the reopening. While I'll admit I now wonder if I'll ever be able to use them, I remain hopeful. :-)

    Hong Kong / China Zero Covid policy may seem draconian, but who are we to judge? They have very dense population centers, less effective vaccines,...

    It really is sad. I believe it was about 1 year ago that Cathay offered some bonus to transfer in miles. I moved in several hundred thousand miles, eagerly anticipating the reopening. While I'll admit I now wonder if I'll ever be able to use them, I remain hopeful. :-)

    Hong Kong / China Zero Covid policy may seem draconian, but who are we to judge? They have very dense population centers, less effective vaccines, many -- maybe more -- anti-vaxxer morons than we have here in the USA, and they appear to have far less capable medical facilities. Outbreaks there could spread much faster and be far more serious than here, so maybe it makes sense for them.

    As far as whether Hong Kong and Cathay will survive is subject to far more variables than we can identify. They have solid foundations. I know I for one am eager for them to return and will book something ASAP once things open. Who knows how much pent-up demand is building...

    1. John T Guest

      There is not a big anti vax movement in HKG. Despite the protests against Chinese leadership in HKG, the citizens are very observant of health rules and advice.

    2. Mike Guest

      I'm glad you pointed that out. It had been months since I looked, and it's much better than the last time I looked. There is a thread on Flyertalk that had a lot of discussion about why HK was so slow on the uptake, but your comment prompted me to get an update and they are reportedly now around 66%. USA is around 62%. Not great numbers given how long it's been out, and that...

      I'm glad you pointed that out. It had been months since I looked, and it's much better than the last time I looked. There is a thread on Flyertalk that had a lot of discussion about why HK was so slow on the uptake, but your comment prompted me to get an update and they are reportedly now around 66%. USA is around 62%. Not great numbers given how long it's been out, and that last third is probably a tough nut to crack. But HK is much improved.

      Searching today suggests China is at 80%, or something like that. Of course, that is CoronaVac and Sinopharm, which are reportedly not so effective against Omicron. They have some cities going into lockdown again, which doesn't bode well for opening borders. And as goes China, so goes Hong Kong.

      But I should stop, lest this turn into a blog war over vaccines. LOL!

    3. Timo Gold

      Yep, if you want some eye-opening comparison about vax levels then research the length of time it took to get the polio vax spread. The covid vax propaganda campaign has been quite successful in such a short time.

  43. wasgoodwhileitlasted Guest

    China and therefore HK will be the last place that opens up for travel. CX is donezo.

  44. RF Gold

    With the forced change in leadership at CX, it won't be the same airline anymore.

    1. upstater Guest

      CX will recover when 2 things happen,

      First, COVID is controlled throughout the world in some manner different than the past 2 years.

      Secondly, the political tensions must be dialed down from "high" to "simmer". If the new normal is a new Cold War, CX is toast as would most international long haul carriers serving Asia. If half the world is basically forbidden to travel to the other half, all long haul carriers will suffer, including the ME3.

    2. David Diamond

      China does not represent "half the world". Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam etc. all exist. China is one country, and honestly not even that many foreigners go there. Most travelers to and from China are Chinese, that travel isn't going to stop either. Even their leadership likes to send their kids and family abroad.

  45. Luke Guest

    I'm guessing the sudden recent acquisition of AA miles many of us got and potential inability to redeem them on CX flights may have prompted the sentiment to post this article! This was probably the next best option for OW airline redemption for much international travel after QR qsuites.

    I agree completely that it's quite sad what's happening to a great city that I've myself also been to numerous times.

  46. Amy Fischer Guest

    I hope not. Hong Kong is no longer an appealing destination. Why go to Hong Kong with Japan, Singapore, and Korea in existence. Westerners and even other Asians don’t need it. Let Hong Kong be served domestically to and from China by Chinese airlines.

    Hong Kong was well reputed 20 years ago. It’s over.

  47. Lauren Walsh Guest

    So why don't you go and travel on them to help support them?

    1. HkCaGu Guest

      You can't. There's nowhere to go on Cathay that will let you in.

  48. Daniel Chen Guest

    Very hard to say. But at the very moment the history of "normalcy" is quite bleak. If you look at the problems of hong kong, aside from the tourist/airline debacle, they are imbedded with a lot of problems: housing, retirement, and

    The thing is that the government itself has a lot of money but it is not being used to support its welfare of the people. It's too focused on pleasing the CCP and...

    Very hard to say. But at the very moment the history of "normalcy" is quite bleak. If you look at the problems of hong kong, aside from the tourist/airline debacle, they are imbedded with a lot of problems: housing, retirement, and

    The thing is that the government itself has a lot of money but it is not being used to support its welfare of the people. It's too focused on pleasing the CCP and ensuring that they have a good standing with Beijing. On one hand, short term, it doesn't look like it's a bad thing but long term I think it can hurt the welfare of the people. First the retirement issue. A lot of locals have their money tied up to something similar to us in the US like 401k. However if you look at the charts of HSI, it hasn't grown for the past 20 years. That means that people that have saved up are not expecting the same returns as say SP 500 (10%+). How will the aging population be able to afford an expensive city like HK? Additionally, housing, one of the biggest issues is not being solved properly. Homes that are 200 sq ft are selling for 700k usd, which is absurd if you think about it. And lastly as some have said, talents are leaving in masses. My wife and I have been expats of HK for over 10 years and we can safely say that there are less and less talents available in HK.

    As for CX sake, I think again, they're playing the political game to please Beijing. Their priority is to open to the mainland first before they open to the west. I do think HK will still maintain it's financial capital status but in the next 20 years, you will see that in China there will be 2 financial capitals (mainly because of the population and masses of the population). HK will still be an attractive place for expats, especially for "chinese expats" rather than western expats.

    I have no doubt CX will recover but as for a timeline, I don't forsee it recoverying anytime soon. Possibly 2024+

    1. aaway Guest

      Daniel Chen - thank you for your perspective and interesting comment. One question that I hope you can opine upon - What incentive does the Chinese government have to retain both Hong Kong & Shanghai as financial centers? Seems (to me) that even with a greater proportion of Chinese expats eventually making up the population, the essential financial services would also transition to mainland based institutions. Additionally, is your judgment based on Western financial firms...

      Daniel Chen - thank you for your perspective and interesting comment. One question that I hope you can opine upon - What incentive does the Chinese government have to retain both Hong Kong & Shanghai as financial centers? Seems (to me) that even with a greater proportion of Chinese expats eventually making up the population, the essential financial services would also transition to mainland based institutions. Additionally, is your judgment based on Western financial firms maintaining a presence in HK vs. the state financial hegemony of Shanghai?

  49. Allen Member

    I was one of those traveling on Cathay several times in November 2019, which the article uses as a reference point. Consistent with the statistics, I have not flown them since then. Now that China has fully absorbed Hong Kong, I'll not be returning to the city for vacation ever again even if the pandemic completely fades, and I'll find alternate routes (e.g., Tokyo) when needing to connect in Asia. As much as I enjoyed...

    I was one of those traveling on Cathay several times in November 2019, which the article uses as a reference point. Consistent with the statistics, I have not flown them since then. Now that China has fully absorbed Hong Kong, I'll not be returning to the city for vacation ever again even if the pandemic completely fades, and I'll find alternate routes (e.g., Tokyo) when needing to connect in Asia. As much as I enjoyed the Wing and Pier lounges, the joy of visiting there now would be overshadowed by knowing I'm patronizing a brutal autocratic regime poised to be America's fiercest adversary for decades to come. Every country has its problems, but the global threat from China is singularly insidious.

    1. kimshep Guest

      Cathay's major shareholders are: Swire Pacific Ltd (UK), Air China (CN) who between them hold 75% .. and Qatar Airways holding 10%.

      Are you seriously suggesting that China would 'nationalize' Cathay Pacific? That is indeed a highly fantastical assumption.

  50. Tony Guest

    Cathay Pacific's future, like Hong Kong's, lies with the Chinese mainland. Unlike any other non-Chinese Asian carrier, it has a potentially much larger market in China, if it can manage to take a significant slice of the premium segment of that market. The concern about its demise is premature and probably greatly exaggerated.

  51. digital_notmad New Member

    100% agree with this analysis, Lucky. Incredibly sad, and we've now missed our window to have any real impact on the situation via US foreign policy levers. In all likelihood, Hong Kong will never be the same.

  52. Mark Guest

    Cathy will survive as they get acquired by China Southern. One World will finally be in China. A win win as I see it.

  53. Justin Guest

    The idea of “not wanting to be political” about a brutal authoritarian regime that kills dissidents, stifles freedom, jails/“re-educates” religious minorities and covers up the cause of a 2 year world wide pandemic while having no qualms at all about wading into mundane American politics over the years is … bizarre.

    1. Super Member

      I'd say he's using that as a catch-all for the feeling of not knowing enough about the nuances of this particular struggle to comment, while I'd imagine he feels he knows a lot more about his home country's political nuances to comment there. I'd also imagine he also doesn't want to be banned from China from his blog posts.

    2. yu Guest

      wait, are you talking about US government?

  54. Tim G Guest

    Agree completely.
    So many good memories of HK, Macau, CX flights.
    I guess this mess will increase traffic TO SEA and beyond on SQ / ANA / JAL / UA / Korean (is Asiana done too? That would be a shame)
    Anyway, sad to think that HK / CX will never be the same.

  55. S Member

    Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong are dead. It's sad.

  56. geoff Guest

    HK is now just another Chinese city. Even since '97 it's gone downhill. Now Covid has given the CCP cover to assume HK. As another poster mentioned, the zero tolerance is painfully stupid but what the CCP wants, the CCP gets. Period.

  57. Jance Guest

    Cathay Pacific's biggest problem is the same big problem that faces all Hong Kong residents and fans: the thugs in Beijing. Whether it's Russian Fascism, Chinese Fascism, or American Fascism (all of which are on the rise), authoritarian goons ruin life for everyone. Democracy and the rule of law are under attack across the world and the bag Guys are gaining strength. Until people wake the fuck up and push back, expect more of this.

    ...

    Cathay Pacific's biggest problem is the same big problem that faces all Hong Kong residents and fans: the thugs in Beijing. Whether it's Russian Fascism, Chinese Fascism, or American Fascism (all of which are on the rise), authoritarian goons ruin life for everyone. Democracy and the rule of law are under attack across the world and the bag Guys are gaining strength. Until people wake the fuck up and push back, expect more of this.

    Comfy flights, lovely lounges, great shopping and other attractions for visitors...the loss of these things are sad, but all are just trivial consequences of much bigger issues.

    1. Andrew Gold

      I don't think it's fair to say HK residents haven't woken up - they've been fighting the good fight for years now.

    2. David Diamond

      Have you not seen how many people Hong Kong took to the streets to peacefully protest? Then fight back when the police started brutalizing citizens? And then when they made everything illegal, kept on presenting their case in media? I'd say the average HK resident is plenty woke, but what can you do when the government is now a totalitarian police state cracking down on all forms of dissent and changing the rules of (an...

      Have you not seen how many people Hong Kong took to the streets to peacefully protest? Then fight back when the police started brutalizing citizens? And then when they made everything illegal, kept on presenting their case in media? I'd say the average HK resident is plenty woke, but what can you do when the government is now a totalitarian police state cracking down on all forms of dissent and changing the rules of (an already heavily stacked) election when they see that their popularity has plummeted? They tried their hardest; now the ones who are fortunate enough to be able to do so, are moving away from the city.

    3. Sam Guest

      Putting the USA and Russia and China on the same level is absurd and shows some obtuse thinking. Scary that anyone agreed with you. (Putting the EU as a Fascist is a better argument, but still not worthy of the level of Russia and China.) Until people wake up and stop trying to compare Russia with China with the EU with the USA, nothing will get better. Jance - crawl back under the rock you...

      Putting the USA and Russia and China on the same level is absurd and shows some obtuse thinking. Scary that anyone agreed with you. (Putting the EU as a Fascist is a better argument, but still not worthy of the level of Russia and China.) Until people wake up and stop trying to compare Russia with China with the EU with the USA, nothing will get better. Jance - crawl back under the rock you crawled out from and get an education. Fat and stupid are no way to go through life son.

    4. Jance Guest

      There are plenty of fascists in the USA (see January 6). They are not (currently) running the national government, but they came within an inch of overthrowing democracy, and are working hard to complete the job with coming events. And they just might succeed. Russia's government is currently every bit as fascist as China's is, they just use different branding for their flavors of fascism. The EU? That's laughable. Yeah, there are fascist parties and...

      There are plenty of fascists in the USA (see January 6). They are not (currently) running the national government, but they came within an inch of overthrowing democracy, and are working hard to complete the job with coming events. And they just might succeed. Russia's government is currently every bit as fascist as China's is, they just use different branding for their flavors of fascism. The EU? That's laughable. Yeah, there are fascist parties and governments that are leaning towards, or already largely fascist (Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and plenty of fascist-lovers in many other countries). So what? Fascist goons are fascist goons, wherever they come from. Some just hold complete power, while others are working on it. Sorry if calling Russia a fascist state bothers you, Valdimir. Ask Alexei Navalny or any of the many people who have been assassinated by Putin's goons.

  58. ChuckMO New Member

    Long term I see CX being folded into Air China or being kept alive as a brand for image reasons, under the control of CA.

  59. Ray Guest

    I saw this coming as soon as I watched Hong Kong’s reaction, and their pre-emptive cancellation of the Singapore travel bubble. I knew Cathay’s passenger division will be in deep trouble, but I remain convinced at least their cargo business will remain lucrative, because Hong Kong.

    This will only accelerate the shift from Hong Kong to Singapore as the premier APAC world city. Though I appreciate that Singapore is cleaner, it’s just not as dynamic...

    I saw this coming as soon as I watched Hong Kong’s reaction, and their pre-emptive cancellation of the Singapore travel bubble. I knew Cathay’s passenger division will be in deep trouble, but I remain convinced at least their cargo business will remain lucrative, because Hong Kong.

    This will only accelerate the shift from Hong Kong to Singapore as the premier APAC world city. Though I appreciate that Singapore is cleaner, it’s just not as dynamic and fun as Hong Kong. Who knows, though? Maybe we’d be proven wrong.

    1. John Guest

      @Ray

      Singapore is now the leading APAC city for finance and business. The drain from HK to SIN is astounding to watch as an outsider looking into both cities. Whether they're willing to admit publicly or not, the sentiment in the business community is that 1.) Rule of Law, and 2.) Stability are the key magnets in SIN attracting HK businesses to move there.

      On a second, more subjective point: I've always much preferred...

      @Ray

      Singapore is now the leading APAC city for finance and business. The drain from HK to SIN is astounding to watch as an outsider looking into both cities. Whether they're willing to admit publicly or not, the sentiment in the business community is that 1.) Rule of Law, and 2.) Stability are the key magnets in SIN attracting HK businesses to move there.

      On a second, more subjective point: I've always much preferred SIN to HK in terms of relaxing and fun. The fact that it's cleaner and better organized is a bonus.

    2. Arthur Lo Guest

      Even cargo is in deep trouble, Gov now requires aircrew 7 days hotel quarantine starting 12/31/2021 after another outbreak cause by the air crew. I can see pilots are quitting left and right. No foreign carriers will buy out CX only CCP will assign one of the state own airlines to take it over.

    3. James Freeman Guest

      My traveling days anywhere are over for health reasons but I trusted Hong Kong as a cargo transfer point until last year when one important package got stuck there for a month with no way to find out why. It was a clear warning. Hong Kong is sinking on all fronts, and the reason is not hard to find:the thugs in Beijing have decided to suffocate it.

  60. uldguy Diamond

    Hong Kong ceased being the city we all knew and loved when the Brits left back in ‘97(?). Now its just another big city in China.

    The best thing Cathay Pacific could do now is merge with China Airlines and move to Taipei. There’s little hope of them being very successful if they remain in Hong Kong.

    The times, they are a-changing…

    1. Super Member

      I'd be curious to know the demographics of this blog's readership. I'm younger, so I only visited Hong Kong for the first time in the mid 2010's and thought it was a fabulous city. To me, it feels like the decline has been very recent.

    2. HKman Guest

      I would argue that the freest time in Hong Kong's history is during the decade of 2000-2010. The CCP honored their side of the agreement and let Hong Kong be. The brits were no saints, they ruled over Hong Kong-ers like autocrats as well.

    3. David Diamond

      @Super

      I'm mid-30s, born in HK but moved out of the city since 97. I think there were a few periods after 97. There's the pre-97 pessimism (which is why my parents moved overseas), but after the handover it actually did maintain a "business as usual" policy, and honestly I think 08 during the Beijing Olympics the sentiment in HK was at the height of pro-China, where it genuinely felt like HK would be able...

      @Super

      I'm mid-30s, born in HK but moved out of the city since 97. I think there were a few periods after 97. There's the pre-97 pessimism (which is why my parents moved overseas), but after the handover it actually did maintain a "business as usual" policy, and honestly I think 08 during the Beijing Olympics the sentiment in HK was at the height of pro-China, where it genuinely felt like HK would be able to keep its own system while China would gradually open up. This period is also when a lot of people who initially left Hong Kong circa 1997 started moving back to the city. 2013 was an important year, when Xi took office and things started slowly slipping backwards, 2014 saw the umbrella movement, and things just kept going downhill until it all came to a head in 2019-2020, with the double whammy of the Anti-Extradition protests and COVID.

    4. kimshep Guest

      Very few people are aware of or even remember that during the hand-over of HKG to mainland China - when CX's future was also 'uncharted' - the then current CX management registered a fully Australian based operation. To be used to secure the global business in the case that Chinese mainland / Government were to provide too many 'difficult hoops' to jump through.

      I have NO doubt that such an option would still be available...

      Very few people are aware of or even remember that during the hand-over of HKG to mainland China - when CX's future was also 'uncharted' - the then current CX management registered a fully Australian based operation. To be used to secure the global business in the case that Chinese mainland / Government were to provide too many 'difficult hoops' to jump through.

      I have NO doubt that such an option would still be available to CX, should it be needed. After all, much of CX's current fleet is already languishing in the super dry Australian heat near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

      However, Lucky's article / opinion-piece omits a number of pertinent facts. Like, CX still has a 40%+ ownership by Swire (UK), that the HKG Government is stumping up funds for a HKG$39b (USD$5b) Cathay restructuring plan, of which the draw-down has recently been extended.

      Like Qantas in Australia, Cathay's immediate problems are directly related to and are a consequence of Government policy, in terms of COVID. Unlike CX, Qantas at least has a domestic market to support itself,

      Frankly, with China maintaining a 'closed country' policy, it is appropriate to recall that Air China, China Southern, China Eastern. Hainan, Xiamen and all other mainland carriers are in exactly the same 'boat'. Is there any sympathy for their plight?

      CX, at least, does have options.

    5. Grey Member

      With the exception of Hainan, the mainland carriers are state owned. Therefore, I imagine they have more leeway. Additionally, I think the point is that Cathay is actually a particularly good airline, and business or first in Cathay is a top tier experience. Business and particularly first on the mainland carriers tends to be a bit less... special.

    6. David Diamond

      @kimshep

      Mainland Chinese carriers also have the domestic Chinese market to sustain their operations, unlike Cathay, so they are not in the exact same boat (given current travel rules between HK and the mainlands, the same cannot be said about Cathay). In this regard, Mainland carriers share more in common with Qantas than Cathay.

      And as Grey has pointed out, mainland carriers are also mostly state-owned.

  61. Stuart Guest

    Very good article. No doubt that Hong Kong will never truly recover to its place on the world stage. The twin blows of China crackdowns and Covid will just accelerate Beijing's desire to continue shifting much of the focus of the financial and business world away from it to mainland cities.

    Already the expat community in Hong Kong, once an integral part of its standing on the global stage, has been gutted. With less...

    Very good article. No doubt that Hong Kong will never truly recover to its place on the world stage. The twin blows of China crackdowns and Covid will just accelerate Beijing's desire to continue shifting much of the focus of the financial and business world away from it to mainland cities.

    Already the expat community in Hong Kong, once an integral part of its standing on the global stage, has been gutted. With less expats to fill positions, more Chinese will come from the mainland. Like we saw in Tibet, Beijing will patiently just keep relocating mainland Chinese to HKG so as to culturally change the entire region.

    Cathay will never be a global carrier on the level it once was. It will become more like a China Southern and serve a niche. And I agree, it's primary area of service in the future will be mainland focused. Sure, flights to SFO and LAX will continue. But I doubt we see three times a day from markets like NYC as an example - and was the case in 2019.

    The winners in this? Canada and Vancouver BC, (and to an extent Australia) where much of the Hong Kong wealth will continue to move. ANA and JAL which will be able to better capitalize on the best positioned Asia hub now from North America. The ME3, who will easily capture even more network connections throughout Asia from Europe.

    It's all very sad. Once such a thriving and fantastic city with years of great memories there.

  62. DWT Guest

    Assuming Taiwan opens up to visitors before HKG, and Starlux is successful in finally adding long haul flights... I wouldn't be surprised if they sought membership in an alliance, and Star and SkyTeam are already taken by other Taiwanese carriers ;-) Two years ago I'd say no way they would be allowed to join oneworld with CX funneling so much international connections via HKG, but now...

  63. jojo Guest

    the Hong Kong you know is being slowly killed off by the wonderful CCP

  64. Jason Guest

    Hong Kong will never be what it was. Talent is fleeing. Singapore will be what Hong Kong was, and Shanghai will be a financial center for China. Hong Kong is losing what made it appealing for international expat assignments etc. it’s gone. Now it’ll be Singapore. And Cathay Pacific will go down with it

    1. Steve Diamond

      Singapore is already the new HK. No one wants to do business in HK anymore and definitely not after the recent crackdown.

  65. CT Guest

    CX will not recover anytime soon. Another capital raising is likely needed but more importantly it's human capital loss is immeasurable. The draconian and unscientific quarantine measures of closed loop operations are burning out it's pilots and crew. It is now at the point that CX is trying to opening overseas bases in order to service HK (it's home base). Experienced pilots are leaving and good luck to CX trying to entice anyone to HK....

    CX will not recover anytime soon. Another capital raising is likely needed but more importantly it's human capital loss is immeasurable. The draconian and unscientific quarantine measures of closed loop operations are burning out it's pilots and crew. It is now at the point that CX is trying to opening overseas bases in order to service HK (it's home base). Experienced pilots are leaving and good luck to CX trying to entice anyone to HK. It is tragic but CX's fate is largely out of its hands as long as zero Covidiocy is practiced in HK.

  66. fatty380 Member

    I already told my friends that I would never return to HKG since I view HKG as Chinese city with their rules nowadays. It's insane that they are hell-bent on zero covid after 2 years. They are lucky that they could suppress people's freedom of expression or people won't tolerate it well. Anyways, I'll focus on burning AA miles via Tokyo (I hope Japan will become rational with their tourism policy in 2022 but at...

    I already told my friends that I would never return to HKG since I view HKG as Chinese city with their rules nowadays. It's insane that they are hell-bent on zero covid after 2 years. They are lucky that they could suppress people's freedom of expression or people won't tolerate it well. Anyways, I'll focus on burning AA miles via Tokyo (I hope Japan will become rational with their tourism policy in 2022 but at least, it seems they allow transit, etc on separate tickets.)

    Truly felt sad for HKG and will remember my good times in that city. Nothing I can do about it now..

  67. Thomas K Guest

    I applaud your approach of this article to stay apolitical - the conclusion would only be more grim/deterministic for sure if you factor in political turmoil in Hong Kong. I speak as a OW Sappire based in HK for years.

    You may want to cover GBA (Greater Bay Airlines), the airline startup in HK on track to substitute CX.

  68. Tim Dunn Gold

    Cathay's future is most cloudy, optimistically speaking. As you accurately note, this is about politics and control as much as it is about health. Even Australia found out that you won't succeed at a covid-zero policy and Singapore is leading Asia back into reality that includes high vaccination rates, testing and isolation of the most vulnerable while allowing the majority of society to return to some sort of normalcy.
    Hong Kong's future was cloudy...

    Cathay's future is most cloudy, optimistically speaking. As you accurately note, this is about politics and control as much as it is about health. Even Australia found out that you won't succeed at a covid-zero policy and Singapore is leading Asia back into reality that includes high vaccination rates, testing and isolation of the most vulnerable while allowing the majority of society to return to some sort of normalcy.
    Hong Kong's future was cloudy before covid and a once wonderful city will never be the same.
    The democratic centers of influence in East Asia will be Japan and S. Korea to the north and several countries in SE Asia.

  69. Pat Guest

    I’ll keep this vague in order to avoid upsetting anyone politically, but it feels like *everyone* is using the chaos caused by covid as an opportunity to advance the agenda they were already pushing for pre-covid.

    In China’s case, they’re using covid to undo “one country two systems” (among other things).

  70. EL Guest

    Too many present tense used. They should all be simple past.

  71. abey Guest

    China will bury Hong Kong and its people.. sad that this can still go on in this day and age. makes you appreciate the democracy we have here with all its issues

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Justin Guest

The idea of “not wanting to be political” about a brutal authoritarian regime that kills dissidents, stifles freedom, jails/“re-educates” religious minorities and covers up the cause of a 2 year world wide pandemic while having no qualms at all about wading into mundane American politics over the years is … bizarre.

8
Jason Guest

Hong Kong will never be what it was. Talent is fleeing. Singapore will be what Hong Kong was, and Shanghai will be a financial center for China. Hong Kong is losing what made it appealing for international expat assignments etc. it’s gone. Now it’ll be Singapore. And Cathay Pacific will go down with it

8
Andrew Gold

I don't think it's fair to say HK residents haven't woken up - they've been fighting the good fight for years now.

7
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published