As the popular legend goes, the name Cathay Pacific was coined at the bar of the Manila Hotel in Hong Kong by founders Roy C Farrell and Sydney H de Kantzow. The airline kick-started by commencing operations to Manila, Bangkok, Singapore and Shanghai in 1946. Business grew at an average rate of 20 per cent each year during the 1960s — a glorious time for Cathay Pacific.
Introduction of latest technology such as computerised reservation systems and flight simulators, made the 1970s an important time for the airline. By 1973, Cathay was already carrying one million passengers annually. A record-breaking profit of HK$5 billion in the beginning of the millennium established its position as a dominant aviation player. By the next two years, it had finished the acquisition of Air Hong Kong.
It started flying to Beijing in 2003 and soon began operations to Xiamen, making it the prime gateway to mainland China.
Keeping up with the times, the airline developed its in-flight product next in the early part of the millennium and went digital with e-business efforts including online check-in and pre-flight ordering for duty-free items. Completing 60 years in aviation in 2006, Cathay Pacific purchased Dragonair (now Cathay Dragon) in 2006 and established a closer relationship with Air China.
Cathay Pacific’s repositioning efforts include the introduction of a new livery in November 2015, which was implemented across all its aircraft. Its catchy “Life Well Travelled” brand philosophy was also introduced in the same year.
Of late, the airline has been extensively focussing on its lifestyle offerings. This includes the expansion of its wine panel to include celebrated wine expert Debra Meiburg. Cathay Pacific prides itself on serving around 80 different wines from countries including France, Italy, Austria, South Africa, Australia, the United States and New Zealand.
This year in February, it launched Betsy Beer, the airline’s own handcrafted beverage named after “Betsy”, the airline’s first aircraft. The beer has been created keeping in mind the alternations that take place on passengers’ taste buds while flying.
Cathay Pacific’s journey has been an interesting one. Today, Cathay Pacific Group (includes Cathay Dragon and Air Hong Kong) operates 186 aircraft across 180 destinations round the world.