From today's HK standard
New York link on Cathay's raft of planned routes
Passengers using Cathay Pacific Airways could fly around the world if it wins rights to operate between London and New York in the next round of Hong Kong-Britain air talks at the end of September.
The new route is among a raft of new services and extra frequencies Cathay Pacific is hoping to add following governmental negotiations during the next few months.
Industry insiders confirmed Cathay Pacific was hoping to get rights to fly passengers from London to New York in exchange for Hong Kong granting Virgin Atlantic rights to fly from Hong Kong to Australia.
The Hong Kong-Britain air services negotiations are due to be held in Hong Kong on September 25-26.
``Virgin Atlantic has been strongly pushing the British government to negotiate rights from Hong Kong to Australia,'' said one insider. ``Cathay Pacific's position has been that if this happened, the Hong Kong government should negotiate London to New York rights in return. The British have been reluctant, although there are now strong indications Britain is receptive to the proposal.''
If the London-New York service is added, Cathay Pacific is likely to launch a fourth non-stop daily flight to London to tie in with the trans-Atlantic departure, the source said.
Britain is preparing to negotiate a separate air services agreement with Hong Kong even though the European Union believes it should negotiate all air pacts, allowing equal access to all EU airlines, he added.
If Cathay Pacific wins the London-New York route, it will offer round-the-world flights from Hong Kong via London, New York and Vancouver, back to Hong Kong. The lack of cabotage rights means the airline cannot carry passengers or cargo between New York and Los Angles or San Francisco.
One insider said: ``Aside from operating its own flights, Cathay Pacific might codeshare with its oneworld alliance partners, British Airways and American Airlines.
He acknowledged that while Cathay Pacific might win traffic rights it would also have to secure landing and take-off rights at Heathrow.
``There might be a problem with slots at Heathrow and Cathay is already looking at securing rights,'' the insider said.
The airline is keen to use its connections within the oneworld alliance to secure codeshare deals on routes within Europe. ``The plan is to build a European hub at London by codesharing to 20 to 30 European cities,'' he said.
``Cathay is looking at a codeshare with British Airways where Cathay would put its flight code on certain of BA's Europe routes while BA could put its own code on some of Cathay's Asian services, including Manila.''
Other possibilities are codesharing with British Airways to Auckland, although Cathay Pacific is considering launching a double daily service to the city, up from 10 flights a week.
Outlining other expansion plans, the insider said an agreement was signed last week for the airline to codeshare with Qantas on services to Rome under which Qantas will pull out from the Italian market.
This is expected not only to significantly boost Cathay's passenger and cargo business but also the number of passengers transiting through Hong Kong. An average of 80 passengers a day are estimated to fly between Sydney and Rome.
``Cathay's cargo services to Milan are doing very well. There is a dedicated freighter. Cargo is booming and Cathay would like to expand cargo,'' the source said.
Qantas previously routed the Sydney-Rome flight via Bangkok. The codeshare meant passenger and cargo traffic would now transit in Hong Kong instead, he added.
Cathay Pacific is also pursuing codeshare opportunities with Spanish flag carrier, Iberia, that would open the market to Madrid and Barcelona.
``There have also been positive discussions with the Indian authorities and Cathay hopes to expand the number of services to Delhi from four to seven a week.'' a source said.
The airline will also meet the Saudi Arabian government to expand frequencies to Riyadh from the present two a week and start flights to Jeddah.