With India projected to become the third largest aviation market in the world by the end of the decade, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways have started examining traffic potential on routes beyond the six metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad to add new points of calls and launch new services once fresh bilateral rights are made available.
James Tong, director, corporate affairs, Cathay Pacific Airways, “India is among our top 10 markets. It is a big expanding market and traffic from India to Hong Kong is growing in double-digits. I expect the country to move up in our pecking order in the coming years.” Over half the traffic that Cathay Pacific flies out of India currently travels onwards to destinations in North America and Australia.
Cathay Pacific operates 48 weekly departures from six metros in India to Hong Kong. The airline has exhausted the allotted bilateral air traffic rights. When more seat entitlements are made available, the airline would launch flights to more destinations in the country. “Ahmedabad is an interesting option. We are exploring the traffic potential in different cities but would only start services to new points of call once fresh bilaterals are made available. We want to fly more passengers out of India not only to Hong Kong but also beyond to destinations in North America, Australia and North-East Asia,” informed Tong.
Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) data shows that as of winter schedule 2014-15 capacity entitlement between India and Hong Kong stood at 45 services and an added 1,250 seats per week. Indian carriers utilise less than half the available bilaterals operating 21 flights per week (or 6,160 seats) between India and Hong Kong. Foreign carriers based in Hong Kong last winter operated more than double the number of flights at 46 services (or 11,409 seats) every week to cities in India.
A spokesperson at Cathay Pacific Airways declined to comment on the pact between India and Hong Kong : “Bilateral air services agreements are between governments and we are not in a position to provide that information. Seat capacity would depend on the aircraft configuration and vary between ports.”
(The writer was in Seattle on an invite of Cathay Pacific Airways)