One of Asia's best carriers Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airways has embarked on a massive expansion of its services into India, after our government recently granted rights allowing it to significantly enhance its flight schedule. Its sister full service airline Dragonair, which mostly operates flights into mainland China is also entering into the Indian market for the first time.
Both Cathay and Dragonair have been allowed rights to operate additional 30 flights a week into India and both the carriers are promptly utilising all these rights. It is still not known which Indian carriers (Air India, Jet or Jet Lite) will be allowed rights to fly into Hong Kong to use India's side of the bilaterals.
Cathey, which currently operates 12 flights a week to India and Dubai via Mumbai from Hong Kong, will add 23 additional flights between February and June, 2008. Details of the flight numbers and schedules are still being finalized. Cathay is opening a new route to Chennai and increasing the frequencies of its services to Mumbai and Delhi.
For the Mumbai route the airline will deploy Boeing 777-300 aircraft with 385 seats. To Delhi it will deploy Airbus A330-300 aircraft with 311 seats and Chennai will be served with A330-300 aircraft.
"The market is needing these flights. We have been trying our best to expand services into India for the last 25 years. Now we are happy to announce a significant increase in our schedule to one of the world's fastest growing economies," said Tom Wright, general manager, India, west Asia, Africa & Pakistan, Cathay Pacific Airways.
He added, "Hong Kong is strategically located as it is only five hours by flight to 50 per cent of the world's populations. We also carry lot more passengers who fly onward to the US." Cathay is planning to expand its cargo operation as well. Currently it operates schedule freighter services to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.Cathay's sister airline Dragonair will launch a daily flight between Hong Kong and Bangalore on May 1, 2008 using A330-300 aircraft. Dragonair, operating a fleet of 31 aircraft and eight freighters, serves 34 regional destinations including 21 in mainland China. Cathay which currently has a load factor of more than 90 per cent from India is planning to expand its base to all metros in due course and is in the process of further enhancing service standards to woo more passengers.