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Cathay Pacific primed to exit 5 Chinese routes

written by Hannah Dowling | February 8, 2021

A file image of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon aircraft at Hong Kong International Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
A file image of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon aircraft at Hong Kong International Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Cathay Pacific has been granted the rights by Chinese regulators to operate 15 routes in mainland China that were previously covered by its now-defunct subsidiary, Cathay Dragon.

However it appears that five destinations previously served by Cathay Dragon are missing from the approved list of routes.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has said it will award Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific with an operating licence to fly both passenger and cargo services to 15 mainland cities, including Fuzhou, Qingdao, Xiamen, Guangzhou and Wuhan.

However, the South China Morning Post reported that five routes previously serviced by Dragon – including Jinan, Kunming, Changsha, Guilin and Nanning – were not provided on the approved list of destinations, suggesting that they may be dropped from Cathay’s network.

Despite the missing cities, a senior source within the company stated that the approval of the 15 Chinese routes were reassuring for the struggling airline, particularly in light of political relations between Hong Kong and China.

Those within the company were unsure if the CAAC would rule in Cathay’s favour and were preparing for the decision to go either way, the source said.

Cathay announced in October that its regional subsidiary, Cathay Dragon, would be ceasing operations immediately, with all operations to be absorbed by the main airline.


At its peak, Dragon operated 48 aircraft to 50 destinations across Asia.

It comes just weeks after Cathay announced it was anticipating to report its highest ever full-year loss for the 2020 financial year.

Prior to the announcement, analysts had forecast a full-year loss of HK$18.3 billion for the Hong Kong carrier.

Cathay’s previous record annual loss was HK$8.7 billion in 2008, amid the global financial crisis.

“We are still not seeing any meaningful improvement in our passenger business,” Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said in a statement at the time.


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