Cathay Pacific Makes Huge New York Service Cuts

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**Update: 13/01/20 @ 08:30 UTC – Response from Cathay Pacific received: The airline will continue with its 25 weekly direct services to JFK. The airline is loading its JFK flights onto the system progressively and as such they may not be reflected in full at the moment.**

It won’t be for quite some time, but Cathay Pacific will be reducing its Hong Kong-New York service capacity by a noticeable amount. Beginning October 25, 2020, the airline will be flying 14 fewer flights per week on the route compared to its current offering.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350
As the situation in Hong Kong shows no sign of improvement, the airline is reducing capacity on various routes. Photo: Cathay Pacific

The changes

One Mile at a Time is reporting that Cathay Pacific offers 25 weekly flights to New York JFK predominantly using the Boeing 777-300ER – four of those services reportedly use the Airbus A350.

There seems to be conflicting information. Checking Cathay Pacific’s schedule on their website, it appears that service to JFK varies by month, with some periods offering 25 weekly flights to JFK and at other times, 20-21 flights. Our own research indicates that all flights up until 1 July use the 777. 2 July is when it appears the A350 will start service to JFK.

However, as of 25 October 2020: we will only see 11x weekly flights to New York JFK. The one daily flight (CX830/831) will be operated by the 777-300ER while the remaining flights (CX845/846) use the A350-900. Daily flights to Newark will remain the same.

Broadly speaking, the airline is cutting two daily services on the route – both of which use the large 777-300ER. These aircraft have first-class cabins onboard – something which the A350-900s lack. Therefore, passenger’s wanting to fly this route in a first class cabin will only have one daily option rather than the current three.

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We already found out in September that by April, the airline will stop its long-running fifth-freedom service between Vancouver and New York JFK. A personal favorite of mine, this service was, in my opinion, the single best way to fly between the two cities. It will be sad to see this service stop – especially as it has been running for 23 years now.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777
Cathay Pacific currently flys three times daily from Hong Kong to New York JFK using the Boeing 777-300ER. Photo: Cathay Pacific

An overall capacity reduction

At the end of November, it was reported that Cathay Pacific will be cutting down its passenger flight capacity by 1.4% next year rather than its original plan to increase it by 3.1%. The decrease is a result of a change in outlook – solely due to anti-government protests that have consumed the city in recent months.

“Given the immediate commercial challenges and the fact that our position has deteriorated in recent weeks, we must take swift action to adjust our budget operating plan for 2020 downwards again. Put another way, rather than growing our airlines in 2020, for the first time in a long time, our airlines will reduce in size.” -Augustus Tang, CEO, Cathay Pacific

With its home base in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is disproportionately affected by the civil unrest. It’s not just Hong Kong-based airlines feeling the pain. Hong Kong Airport itself has posted its largest decline in passenger numbers in a decade.

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The provisional passenger numbers for November 2019 show that just 5,012,000 passengers passed through the airport in November 2019- a staggering 16.2% decline when compared to November 2018 passenger numbers. Sadly, November was also the fourth month in a row of declining passenger numbers.

Cathay A350
Cathay Pacific will keep its daily Newark service the same – for now at least. Photo: Cathay Pacific.

Conclusion

It’s unfortunate that the airline is being forced to make these difficult cuts. With no end in sight for the protests in Hong Kong, hopefully, the airline will eventually reach a level of equilibrium as it adjusts to this new normal.

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