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Cathay Pacific hopes to finish hearing on schedule

12 Mar 2003

Cathay Pacific Airways believes evidence given at today's Hong Kong's Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) hearing did nothing to weaken its case for licences to serve the Chinese Mainland cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Xiamen, and hopes that the hearing will be completed on schedule without distractions.

At the heart of Cathay Pacific's case is the belief Hong Kong's future relies on it being a leading aviation and logistics hub. Cathay Pacific flying back to the Chinese Mainland would strengthen Hong Kong's position as a hub and as a gateway to the Mainland.

Hong Kong is currently being bypassed by China-bound traffic from Europe, North America, Australia and Southeast Asia. The airline aims to change these traffic flows and enhance connectivity through Hong Kong.

Figures previously presented by Cathay Pacific to the Tribunal showed that in 2003 an estimated 7.1 million travellers will take connecting flights to Shanghai. Yet in 2002, only 785,000 passengers connected to Shanghai via Hong Kong, according to statistics published by Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department.

Other airlines in Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Korea have recognised the potential of the China market and are developing connecting services at their own hubs. Cathay Pacific believes that Hong Kong will find it hard to recover ground lost to competitor hubs if it is allowed to fall further behind.

Cathay Pacific believes that claims made by Dragonair about the negative impact it may suffer if Cathay Pacific operates services to Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen are greatly exaggerated.

Dragonair objects to Cathay Pacific's application for licences to fly to Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen. The hearing continues tomorrow.