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Cathay Pacific outlines flight recovery plan

20 Apr 2010

Below is a summary of the remarks by Cathay Pacific Director Service Delivery Mr. Ivan Chu at a press briefing this afternoon attended by Mr Chu and Captain Russell Davie, General Manger Operations.

- There has been a massive disruption to the air traffic to and from Europe affecting all airlines around the world. IATA estimates airline losses at more than US$200 million a day in lost revenues, and The Centre For Asia Pacific Aviation(CAPA) has put the cost to the industry as a whole at US$2 billion and rising with each day of disruption.

- It is a crisis on an unprecedented scale in modern civil aviation. Hopes were raised last night (HK time) when EU Transport ministers announced a partial lifting of the no fly ban which covers northern Europe and the United Kingdom.

- But that has been complicated by a fresh eruption of the volcano in Iceland. Official forecasts show the volcanic ash still covering the area, and advisories from aviation authorities in Europe continue to classify the area as a no fly zone.

- Let me assure you that Cathay Pacific is doing its utmost to minimise the inconvenience caused by the flight disruption to its passengers. We have issued information to passengers and the public as it has become available and will continue to do so.

- Planning for recovery is extremely difficult in these circumstances and we appeal to our passengers and the public for patience during what we very much appreciate are trying times for them.

- But we have to be realistic. As and when services resume, all airlines around the world will be competing for landing slots at airports, and airspace and airports are going to be horribly congested.

- The backlog is going to take time to clear. We are appealing to passengers who have reservations on our flights to Europe for non-essential travel to give them up to free up seats.

- We have about 1,200 of our passengers in hotels at the moment, and we are urging those whose countries of origin are outside of Europe to consider returning to their home ports to wait for the situation to become clearer. Some 320 had already done so.

- We have today further cancelled our seven flights to Europe – four to London, and one each to Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. We have upgraded the Rome service from an A340 to a Boeing 747-400, to provide us with an extra 96 seats.

- We will make a decision on our Rome and Milan flights scheduled for late tonight after 8pm following our latest review of the situation.

- We are in the planning stage for recovery. We have stopped connecting passengers from coming to Hong Kong, we are hoping to add extra sectors where possible, upgrading to larger aircraft where we can on critical routes, appealing to passengers on non-essential flights to postpone their travel and working out a priority system for when services begin to return to normal.

- Once services begin returning to normal, we intend to give priority to students returning to the UK to sit public examinations and unaccompanied minors, i.e. Children under 12.

- In parallel, the company will be deploying larger aircraft with more seats to fly the London routes once services to London resume. The extra seats thus generated will be assigned to students and unaccompanied minors in the first instance.

- We have set up a hotline 2747- 8888 which is open from 7am to 11pm to register these priority passengers. For ticketing changes, passengers should always call 2747-1888.

- To help clearing the backlog, Cathay Pacific will not be taking new bookings on flights to Europe for departures on or before 10 May.

- We will continue to stay in touch with our passengers and the public and will issue fresh information as it comes to hand.