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Cathay Pacific CEO assesses state of industry at Asian Aerospace

26 Feb 2002

Cathay Pacific Airways Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive David Turnbull today marked the launch of Asian Aerospace 2002 with an update on the airline's current position, and the state of the industry in Asia-Pacific.

Mr Turnbull said: "Despite the current recession a great turnout from major aerospace companies at Asian Aerospace 2002 demonstrates the faith they place in Asia to once again become the fastest growing market in the world for their products and services. Airbus Industrie for example has the A340-600 cabin on display - an aircraft for which Cathay Pacific will be the Asian launch customer later this year. Boeing are also previewing a model of their Sonic Cruiser - a project that with the right economics could offer business travellers significant benefits on long- and ultra-long-haul routes."

"The timing of the show this year however clearly made for some tough decisions for organisers and exhibitors alike. Although I imagine fewer fresh airline deals will be signed compared to previous years due to the current climate, Cathay Pacific's teams are present just as before to speak to key vendors and enable early assessments of products and technologies that promise to benefit both our passengers and our business."

"Despite the difficult economic climate Cathay Pacific has committed to maintaining the momentum of its product enhancements. The New Business Class has already been installed on examples of all types of our long-haul fleet - namely Boeing B747-400, Airbus A340, and the three-class Airbus A330 - and passenger response has already been excellent.

"We know that this year is going to be tough for most airlines, but as competition in this market intensifies it is more important than ever for us to offer a premium product - which is why we are committed to product enhancements, and not cutbacks."

Cathay Pacific's new long haul Business Class product features one of the longest and widest stretch-flat seats in the sky, an exclusive bar and reception area for passengers to meet and mingle inflight, and a private dressing room.

The revolutionary new seat design allows even the tallest passengers to stretch out to a full six feet and three inches at a gentle incline of thirteen degrees inflight. The seat is infinitely adjustable between the stretch-flat mode and the upright takeoff-and-landing position. Working on board the new Business Class has been simplified with a laptop power supply in every seat, directable, dimmable reading lights, and USB data sockets connecting to the Tenzing inflight email system.

Cathay Pacific is the first airline in the world to offer an onboard high-speed data network allowing passengers access to the Tenzing service at speeds of up to 11 Mbps anywhere in the world - from halfway across the Pacific to the middle of Siberia.
The new Business Class is also installed with AVOD - Audio and Video on Demand - allowing passengers to select the movie and features they want to watch, at the time they want to watch them, with superior digital picture and sound quality.

Commenting on the state of the market, Mr Turnbull continued: "Last week we released traffic figures for January 2002 which showed Cathay Pacific flew a total of 960,967 passengers and 58,548 tonnes of cargo. Our passenger figures were 3.1% down from the same month last year, whilst our cargo numbers were actually up 17.4% for the same period. The main reason for these rather contradictory numbers is the shifting date of the Chinese New Year festival, which makes a meaningful month-on-month comparison difficult at the beginning of each year."

"The apparent surge in cargo this year was due to the busy weeks for cargo prior to Chinese New Year falling earlier this year compared to last. Even with the seasonal differences however many fewer First and Business Class travellers are flying this year. Additionally there is widespread discounting on fares for both business and leisure travellers which continues to undermine airline revenues."

Cathay Pacific has reacted to the downturn by trimming some frequencies and temporarily parking six aircraft. However despite the difficult environment the airline has launched two brand new routes in the last four months. Direct flights to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Sapporo in Japan launched in October and December respectively, and passenger loads on these routes are encouraging.

Cathay Pacific Airways
Cathay Pacific Airways is a Hong Kong-based airline offering scheduled passenger and cargo services to over 50 destinations in over 30 countries and territories. The airline flies to Asia, North America, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Cathay Pacific operates a fleet of more than 70 wide-body aircraft. The passenger fleet consists of Boeing 747-400s, B777-300s, B777-200s, Airbus Industrie A340-300s and A330-300s. The freighter fleet consists of B747-400 and B747-200 Freighters.

Cathay Pacific employs more than 14,000 staff. The company is a member of the Swire Group and is a public company listed on the Hong Kong and London Stock Exchanges. Cathay Pacific is a founder member of the global airline alliance oneworld, which has a combined network of more than 550 destinations worldwide. There are currently eight members of oneworld: Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Iberia, Finnair, LanChile, and Qantas.

Asian Aerospace 2002
Asian Aerospace 2002 is being held in Singapore this year from 26 February - 3 March. The show features indoor and outdoor exhibits plus static aircraft and flying displays with close to 900 exhibitors and predictions of around 22,000 visitors.