Cathay to fly to Moscow, Almaty
By Masood Anwar
KARACHI: Cathay Pacific Airways is including Moscow and Almaty in its flight map and terms and conditions in this regard will be finalised during a visit of the airline's delegation to Moscow next week.
Happy Minwala, Manager Cathay Pacific for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian Independent States (CIS) said while unfolding the Airways' expansion plan, it is sound and feasible to start operations to Russia and CIS.
"I am going to Moscow next week for final negotiations," he said adding "there is a big possibility that Karachi will be the transit point for Cathay to fly to CIS."
Pakistan has large traffic for Russia and CIS. When Aeroflot operated from Pakistan, it would have 16-18 flights per week for Moscow, he added. Minwala dismissed the impression Cathay has any problems with flying rights for operation from Pakistan to West and South.
"We have equal rights," he said. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is planning to make West Coast next year after obtaining new Boeing-777 planes and it has no option except Hong Kong to go to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
"We have no objection to the PIA move. The airline is free to go anywhere from Hong Kong except Chinese airports," he made clear adding PIA is prohibited to fly within China from Hong Kong. Cathay is enjoying similar facilities in Pakistan, he added.
Minwala foresaw big potential in Russia, as he said there is no direct flight from Pakistan and Far East. He termed the new flight plan a new boost for the Airways.
Cathay Pacific Airways has launched a business promotion programme to cope with the crisis gripping the Hong Kong territory due to the SARS epidemic.
The new business promotion program offered one ticket free for every business class ticket. This offer is valid for Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Japan.
The airways offered free ticket for a child (up to 12 years) for economy class, ticket for the destinations of Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Australia and Auckland.
Happy Minwala, manager for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Independent States, while unveiling the airways plan at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday said that the World Health Organisation lifted it's travel advisory on Hong Kong last week and SARS is now under complete control.
SARS has badly affected Cathay business. Before the outbreak, around 35,000 passengers used Cathay every day for their travel. However due to SARS, this figure has dropped to 8,000 a day, he informed.
The nosedive drop in the number of passengers forced the airways to cut its flight operation by 45 per cent.
For Pakistan, the number of passengers was 200 a week that plunged to 70 passengers.
Now the situation is improving and figures for Pakistan are touching 146 passengers, Minwala said.
Photo © Jimmy Tse
[Edited 2003-06-01 09:00:08]