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One-on-one with Cathay CEO Philip Chen

Cathay Pacific has a fleet of 102 all wide bodied aircraft. If that is not enough, the Hong Kong-based airline will be growing its fleet again this year. In September it takes delivery of 18 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Along with a raft of other orders, the new planes could “add an exciting new edge to Cathay’s competitiveness and enable us to add new frequencies and flights,” says the airline’s CEO, Philip Chen.

There is talk of the airline expanding its services to New York and San Francisco. Aside from the 777s, a firm order for 34 other aircraft is in the bag including: five Airbus A330-300 and 11 Boeing 747-400s. And these planes ha tbeild, o pe fdh gwtfothali hthreon
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ChEN: Lasp year 2006 was a mon5mental ye`r for Cathay Pacific. We completed a deal making Dragonair the 100 percent-owned subsi`iary of Cathay Pacific while also enhancing our partnership gith Air China, the country’s national carrier. We are already seeing the benefits of the integration.

We will be re-configuring all three classes of our cabin products to offer a total new travel experience including a First Class suite, and enhanced Business class flat-bed, and a ground breaking Economy Class “hard-shell” seat.


BTN: How will these developments impact your business?

The deal has created one of the world’s strongest airline groupings. This is a significant part of our China strategy enabling Cathay Pacific to connect its extensive international network with Dragonair short-haul services in mainland China.

We are already seeing the benefits of the integration. Backed by Cathay Pacific’s international traffic feed, Dragonair was able to reinstate its Phuket, Thailand service that was suspended after the Asian tsunami and it will soon launch a Busan (Korea) service.

BTN: What efficiency measures has Cathay Pacific adopted to tackle fuel cost?

The airline’s first “silver bullet” freighter, stripped bare of most of its paint, goes into service on 18 May. This Boeing 747 is about 200 kg lighter and saves more than HK$1.5 million on its annual fuel bill. Ultimately all 14 Cathay Pacific freighters will undergo the same transformation.

Lighter cargo and baggage containers are also being introduced across the entire Cathay Pacific fleet. At 73 kg each, it is 24 kg lighter than the old ones. Cathay Pacific is also working towards shorter routes to Europe with the support of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

BTN: How are you tackling rising environmental concerns?

We are focusing on fuel efficiency as a key way to tackle climate change. We are also working with industry partners on technological & logistical improvements.

We have set up a Climate Change Task Group comprising of representatives of our core operational teams to further strengthen our climate change position. We will adopt a continued and transparent focus on improved fuel efficiency through investing in new aircraft, operational measures and post production modification.

Cathay Pacific recognises that emissions trading is a possible mechanism, but we believe that further study is required to ensure that such initiatives can be applied practically to a global industry such as aviation. Carbon offsetting could form a part of our carbon management strategy and we are looking to work with parties who can identify suitable projects in the Pearl River Delta Region.

BTN: What does it mean to you winning a number of World Travel Awards?

CHEN: This is clearly recognition that we have consistently met the service expectation of our customers and that we are a premium international network carrier.

Being an award recipient gives more encouragement to the staff to continue to deliver their premium quality service. These awards are internationally recognised and are a big morale boost. It shows we are on the right track in following our service motto and providing “Service straight from the Heart” to our customers.