Around the World in 80 Hours.
With all the razzmatazz concerning the introduction next week of through flights by Virgin Atlantic to Sydney it should not be forgotten that the granting of licenses was a result of a tradeoff between the authorities in Hong Kong and London regarding the North Atlantic.
Much to the chagrin of Sir Michael Bishop and the team at bmi, whilst Virgin won Chek Lap Kok to Sydney, Cathay Pacific gained the right to fly from Heathrow to Kennedy Airport New York. It was a real coup for the Anglo Chinese airline not only gaining access to one of the most lucrative air routes in the world, but doing so into a market in London that already knows all about the carrier and its quality. Whilst CX will probably only fly one service a day, initially at least, it should have no difficulty in selling seats. Likewise in New York it is already established with a nonstop flight to Hong Kong and a through service via Vancouver. Clearly once under way the marketing costs will be minimal, its salesmen already on the road and both offices geared up to orchestrate an effective program. When the London to New York service will start only the airline knows but whilst the route license has been gained obtaining the necessary slots at Heathrow is another matter. But they will be obtained and with 2005 also the 25th anniversary of Cathay operating between London and Hong Kong it is very likely that next year the award winning carrier will be flying west out of Heathrow.
On 1 July 2004 Cathay Pacific introduced the nonstop Hong Kong to New York service with a flight time of up to 16 hours 30 minutes (although in practice due to routing and winds it can be nearly two hours shorter). Using an Airbus A340-600 it is not the world's longest scheduled nonstop flight (that honor goes to Singapore Airlines who this year introduced a daily Kennedy to Changi service with an astonishing 18 hours 55 minutes scheduled flight time in a two class Airbus A340-500).
With the introduction of the London to New York route Cathay Pacific will offer for the very first time a truly around the world scheduled air service. Global tickets themselves are not new. All three alliances offer this service, usually with just two airlines, typically British Airways to Sydney, Qantas across the Pacific and thence via a variety of gateways back to London on BA again. Air France will take you to the Far East and connect with a partner airline who will pass you back to AF at one of its US destinations. The same goes for Star Alliance with Lufthansa and United Airlines who connect to sell a world encircling package.
When the day comes about Cathay will no doubt suggest to the Guinness Book of World Records' that an inspector takes the opportunity to circumnavigate the world with one airline and probably one aircraft in a time we estimate of around 42 hours (16 hours, 8 hours + 12 hours and say 3 hours at each stop). Singapore Airlines, who would dearly love to come on the North Atlantic will no doubt be very jealous and Emirates, another carrier with infinite aspirations, who do now fly Dubai to New York nonstop in just over 14 hours. From a purely commercial point of view (and Cathay is very commercial) the routing will have little value, but its true significance will be in promoting the carrier to the top of the tree as a truly world airline.
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|Date:||Nov 30, 2004|
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