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Cathay Pacific issues clarification on recent events that have attracted media attention

31 Jan 2012

Cathay Pacific’s Chief Operating Officer Ivan Chu gave a briefing today at which he clarified the airline’s position relating to a number of events that have recently attracted attention in the media.

Speaking following an event staged to highlight the features of the newly renovated Level 7 Business Class Lounge at The Wing at Hong Kong International Airport, Mr Chu commented on some of the delays and diversions experienced by Cathay Pacific during the recent busy peak period.

“I would like to dispel any impression that there is somehow a pattern to recent events that suggests anything out of the ordinary with our performance,” Mr Chu said. “In fact, when you look at the reported incidents in context, they have been isolated and unrelated to each other. There is no particular pattern or trend there.”

Mr Chu acknowledged that the incidents had resulted in disruption to services and delays of various lengths. He offered his sincere apologies to the passengers for the inconvenience caused to them, and thanked them for their patience and understanding.

“We know how frustrating it is for them, and we share that frustration and do everything practicable to mitigate that,” he said. “But we need to keep things in perspective. Considering that we mounted 130,000 flight departures last year from airports around the world, the number of air turnbacks or diversions was really very, very small – some 30 in all, which is only one in every 4,300 Cathay Pacific flights that took to the air in 2011.”

Commenting on the airline’s Boeing 747-400s that were involved in some of the recent incidents, Mr Chu said these aircraft have a long record of reliable service and stressed that every engineering incident is reviewed so the maintenance regime can constantly be improved. The airline has a strict maintenance programme, overseen by the regulatory authorities, which goes beyond manufacturers’ requirements.

“In the longer-term, we are investing HK$190 billion at list prices in new aircraft to progressively replace our 21 Boeing 747 passenger aircraft with B777-300ERs and Airbus A350s, with all the older aircraft leaving the fleet by 2017. We will take delivery of 11 new passenger aircraft this year alone,” he said.

Overall, Mr Chu said, Cathay Pacific runs a “very reliable” airline and the safety of passengers and crew will always be its greatest priority. “But the complex nature of running so many aircraft on so many services from so many points of the globe means that inevitably there will be technical problems that cause delays, disruption or even cancellation of services. That’s inevitable, I’m afraid, and it affects every airline in the world,” Mr Chu said.

On the handling of delays and disruptions, Mr Chu said that Cathay Pacific constantly reviews its operation and services to seek further improvements.