Any form of co-operation by an airline with British Airways is the kiss of death for services long-haul services from Manchester. This is the second important long-haul route at Manchester to be dropped because of an airlines' alliance with BA, the first being Qantas' daily Sydney service, and now the daily Hong Kong route has been lost too.
Things could all have been so different, I believe Cathay did plan to go non-stop on the route with A340 in 1997, but the Asian economic downturn and the fall in UK visitors numbers to Hong Kong that accompanied the handback to China meant it was postponed. It looks like it will never happen, although Cathay Pacific say they will restart the route if it makes financial sense, but whilever they are in an alliance with British Airways I can confidently say Cathay Pacific will not be returning to Manchester.
It seems BA don't appear to realise that their falling passenger numbers on flights from Manchester are as a result of peoples reluctance to use the Shuttle to LHR and experience the hassle of changing planes there when the competition is operating direct services, or flights via more passenger friendly hubs.
I'd hoped that the suspension of Cathay Pacific's flights from Manchester was temporary, but it appears they have used the pilots strike as a reason to "suspend" the flights and then quietly drop then shortly afterwards.
The fact is that demand exists for flights from Manchester to Asia for both point-to-point flights and onward connections to Asia and Australasia. This was evidenced by the spectacular success of Malaysia Airlines services that within a year went from 2 weekly B777s via Munich to 3 weekly B747s non-stop. While Cathay Pacific never really marketed their flights, Malaysia promoted theirs as the fastest link between Manchester and Asia, and reaped the benefits.
Oneworld had the potential to hugely benefit Manchester, not only by opening up potential for new flights, but for codesharing to ensure the continuing success of existing ones. Instead of dropping direct MAN-HKG services, why not add the BA code to Cathay Pacific’s flights and boost passenger numbers? British Airways and American are free to codeshare on their respective MAN-JFK and MAN-ORD services, neither of which have a certain future due to increased competition. While the competition all fly the A330/B777/B747 on MAN-USA flights, BA and American each struggle to fill a B767.
The situation is repeated on European routes, not to go into too much detail but as a snapshot I was on a recent MAN-CDG-MAN flight operated by a B737-500. On a weekday I was on the first flight of the day, everybody on the plane except 5 passengers were travelling Club Europe, great! Unfortunately there were only 37 passengers in total. My return from Paris was also on the first flight of the day, and again there were less than 40 passengers, again less than 10 in economy - but still impossible to make money with loads like that. If British Airways want to succeed on routes out of Manchester they need to promote it as a convenient hub, with all transfers within one terminal and able to offer routings like New York-Billund, Chicago-Stockholm and Hong Kong-Belfast with much shorter transfer times that flying via Heathrow. The main reason Birmingham makes money for BA is that most of their European flights offer same-plane service to UK destinations, and the UK and European flights feed each other - not so at Manchester.
It appears for Manchester the future as a hub lies in the Star Alliance; with bmi, Lauda Air, SAS and Luftansa providing domestic and European services alongside the long haul flights of Air Canada, bmi and Singapore Airlines....
While Manchester is never going to be like Munich, unlike Lufthansa, British Airways have never given it a chance and it has been mainly left to foreign airlines, and more recently bmi to develop the airport.
I've gone on long enough, so I'll shut up now. What was the question again?