Cathay Pacific to exhaust its traffic rights
Cathay-Pacific, Hong Kong's flag carrier, will be the second after Dubai-based Emirates to utilise all its bilateral air traffic rights with India, as it increases its weekly flights from 35 at present to 46 by the year end.
It will start four flights a week to Hyderabad from Hong Kong in December, while its wholly-owned subsidiary Dragonair will commence a similar service to Kolkata from November.
Tom Wright, general manager, South Asia, West Asia and Africa, said, "Once we have launched all our flights to these destination, we would have utilised all our traffic rights." Traffic rights negotiated between India and Hong Kong are primarily based on number of flights. But in case of Delhi, it includes seats.
According to Cathay Pacific's travel agent, "After the withdrawal of Germany-based carrier Lufthansa from Hyderabad, the burgeoning business traffic has spilled to other carriers. Kolkata being the gateway for lot of Buddhist monasteries, has a higher traffic."
Cathay's aircraft configuration reflects their client focus. For Hyderabad, Airbus A330-300 with 44 seats in the business class and 267 in economy will be put to use. Flights from Kolkata will be operated by Airbus A320 with eight seats in business class and 150 seats in the economy class. Cathay enjoys load factors of around 80 per cent.
Wright said, "About 25-30 per cent of our traffic from India is bound for Hong Kong and the rest for destinations beyond it. The period of travel also plays an important role as during the holidays we see an upsurge in traffic bound for Hong Kong due to growing popularity of this destination."
He, however, expressed concern over the hike in Delhi airport charges by 345 per cent. "This is a great concern for all airlines. We are being squeezed by the high fuel costs. Other big airports and hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, Incheon, Dubai, Bangkok and so on are all less expensive to fly to. They show you can be both world class and cost effective to operate from," he added.