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Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Thu Aug 09, 2001 7:27 am

Cathay Pacific Airways has decided not to resume flights to Manchester, according to the Wall Street Journal Europe.
The airline last month suspended flights to 12 destinations, including Manchester and Karachi, after its pilots’ union began a go-slow campaign as part of a dispute over pay and benefits.
Karachi services will be restored on 14 August. But Cathay corporate development director Tony Tyler told the WSJE: ‘Frankly, the economics of that service [Manchester] have never been particularly good.’
Cathay will instead offer passengers connections to Manchester from London through its alliance with BA.
Tyler added, however, that the Manchester route would be kept under review with services being restored if economic conditions improved.

They once had 145,000 passengers a year on this service. Last year it was down to 87,000 passengers. BA and CX codeshare the MAN-LHR (an other) shuttle route.

Anyone care to put 2 and 2 together to make 5?

David/MAN: 351 and counting
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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Thu Aug 09, 2001 8:41 am

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?  Smile

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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Thu Aug 09, 2001 5:07 pm

It is true. It has been hidden by the pilot strike. Watch out for bad news from Air Mauritius.
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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Thu Aug 09, 2001 5:57 pm

I totally agree, BA has never given Manchester a fair chance. It has so many long haul route licences from MAN but doesnt untilise them and tries where possible to put a spanner in the works when a major airline does want to start services to MAN. You only have to look at the Gulf Air flights, they wanted to fly MAN BAH but couldnt because BA got involved and had no other option than to fly MAN AUH and we all know what happened next - they dropped the service within 2-3 years. On the other hand this will be good news for Emirates as they are planning to start a second daily flight from MAN in the first quarter of next year and will be able to provide connections on to the Far East!
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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Thu Aug 09, 2001 6:30 pm

I had heard a lot of people that they prefer traveling from MAN instead of LHR. MAN have got a train station, which therefore will provide train services around the Midlands area, which make it more convienient for people to travle to MAN rather than to LHR, take a tube to downtown London and then a train to their final destination. People from Scotland or north England will also prefer to travel from MAN as there are less traveling time between their homes and the airport, compared to that of LHR.

About MAS' flights to MAN, I read somewhere previously that MAS is indeed doing pretty well on the MAN-KUL route. However, I don't think it is performing as well as LHR. One of the main reason is that MAS does not offer that many flights out of MAN (3 times weekly) compared to LHR (16 times weekly, 18 times weekly from mid-Sept. 2001 onwards). With LHR, MAS offers convienient departures to Australia and Asia. Now that MAS announced that it will cutback on several routes in Europe, will MAN be affected? Will they change the 3 times weekly services nonstop to a one-stop service? MAS also announced that they are going to cut the KUL-EWR route, if not, we could really hope for a daily KUL-MAN-JFK route! I think the most likely European routes that are off to go are Rome and Munich.

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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Fri Aug 10, 2001 3:41 am

If I fly from manchester to Hong Kong, and now they told me there are no longer direct flight, I would not fly BA/CX but would go to somebody else (like EK), since the bus transfer from T1 to T3 is fussy, especially for many old Chinese who do not know a lot of English. More importantly, I don't think T?can cope in the future, since when EK and SQ each put 3 A380 flight in a day, that is enough to get T3 packed. Oh well, I suppose they cancut it to 4/5 flights a week, but it probaly won't be resumed. In 1998, they cut Sapparo, today, it is not back, well, San Fransico is back, but that is about it. So, don't expect Zurich and Manchester would be back any time soon.
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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Fri Aug 10, 2001 3:45 am

Hi OdiE,
Given the rapid buildup of Malaysian services to Manchester, I think they must not only have experienced high loads but also good yields, now MAN has to fill all the First and Business seats on a B747-400 3 times a week.

If loads didn't meet requirements, I think the most likely solution would be to recombine the MAN flights with those of another European destination - rather than dropping the airport altogether. When withdrawing a service like this you not only lose the MAN-KUL passengers, but substantial proportion of those who connect with the rest of the network, so a route withdrawal can have a much wider impact. However the service still appears to be experiencing strong loadfactors.

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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Mon Aug 13, 2001 3:20 am

Maybe this could result in more pax transferring to MAS or SQ and Star Alliance.
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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Mon Aug 13, 2001 3:35 am

On my recent trip with Emirates the taxi driver taking me to Manchester Airport had flown the MAN-HKG flight and said that the stopover in Paris made a long flight even more uncomfortable. I heard that CX plan to restart MAN-HKG flights next summer which will be non-stop, i can't see it happening though. On my EK flight the majority of passengers were transfering at Dubai, using Emirates to fly to places such as Melbourne and Bangkok from Manchester and avoiding LHR and BA! However, BA codeshare with EK on the MAN-DXB route.

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RE: Cathay Withdraws MAN Service?

Mon Aug 13, 2001 7:42 am

There is also quite a substantial market out of MAN of people travelling via various european hubs, I travelled last October from Manchester to Detroit with KLM via Schipol and with the one terminal connection it was far more pleasant than transiting through Heathrow. The KLM UK sector out of MAN was full with many passengers transiting worldwide.

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