The pandemic has changed a lot. Also at Cathay Pacific. “During the Corona crisis, the cargo business kept us alive,” says Kinto Chan, Europe boss of the Hong Kong airline. So one flew to Frankfurt very often without passengers because there was enough cargo demand.

These effects sometimes persist to this day. “Before the pandemic, we had an average of about 10 tons of cargo on board our Zurich flights,” said Chan. On December 2, Cathay resumed the connection as a passenger flight – initially with two weekly frequencies. “Now we’re loading up to twice as much cargo.”

No wonder Cathay wants to renew and expand the freight fleet. Management is currently in talks with Airbus and Boeing about ordering new jets. It looks at the A350 F as well as the 777 F and the 777-8 F.

Cathay Pacific not only wants to expand its cargo fleet. The group, which also includes the low-cost airline HK Express, also sees a need for more short and long-haul aircraft and is also talking about this with Airbus and Boeing.

“Management is in tough negotiations,” said Chan. There are currently enough planes. It is about the demand from 2024 or 2025.

Chan sees the greatest future growth in Asia in particular. “All Asian destinations can be reached from Hong Kong in a maximum of five hours,” says the manager. We want to take advantage of this location advantage.

It also helps that the airport of the former British crown colony now has a third runway. They want to be prepared for these growth opportunities with the additional aircraft.

However, that does not mean that the long-haul business is no longer important, quite the opposite. Zurich is the last of the ten European destinations that Cathay has resumed, following Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan, Manchester, Rome and Paris.

According to Chan, the reaction from customers has been very good. “Our new flights in December are 98 percent sold out,” says the manager.

What is seen in Switzerland is also seen elsewhere in Europe. “We flew to Frankfurt once a week in the fall,” says Europe boss Chan. Now there are four weekly flights. “And six again from January.” The pace of recovery is “absolutely amazing”.

Cathay Pacific has not yet headed for Austria. Flights to Vienna have been calculated again and again, says Chan. “But it just doesn’t pay off,” says the Europe boss.

In Frankfurt and Zurich, due to economic ties, there is a good basic workload with business people, which is lacking in the Austrian metropolis.

Vienna would work as a seasonal route, Chan continued. But that is something that Cathay has not done before. But the pandemic has shown that what used to apply no longer necessarily applies forever.

This article was written by Stefan Eiselin

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The original of this article “Airline amazed at how quickly European demand is returning” comes from aeroTelegraph.