Dragonair, the sister airline of Cathay Pacific, has officially been rebranded as Cathay Dragon.
As previously reported (see here), the aim of this move is to strengthen the synergy between the two carriers and improve brand awareness among international travellers.
Cathay Pacific chief executive Ivan Chu emphasised that this was not a merger, and that Cathay Dragon will continue to remain a separate airline, and operate under its own licence.
Speaking to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, Chu revealed the reason why a merger between Cathay Pacific and Dragonair was not considered as an option for the group.
“When we started integrating Dragonair into the Cathay Pacific Group [in 2006], we did a lot of good things with spectacular results. Since then, Dragonair has added 23 new destinations to its network, whilst also upgrading its products in the air and on the ground,” stated the Cathay chief executive.
“Over the last two years, we weighed up all the options and concluded that the current decision of changing the brand, and putting both brands closer together, was the best option for the group – bearing in mind the strong brand equity of Dragonair in China. Cathay Pacific actually needs to leverage off the Dragonair brand in China!”
Chu also noted that by 2020 there will be an expected 200 million Chinese flying out of China, while 130 million international travellers are expected to fly into the mainland, which makes it important for Cathay Pacific to also lend its strength to its sister carrier.
The rebrand of Dragonair as Cathay Dragon includes a brand-new livery design that features existing elements of both carriers. Perhaps most noticeable is the adoption of the Cathay Pacific brushwing logo, which the company hopes will show the relationship between the two airlines in a clear and simple way.
The distinctive red of Dragonair is retained, but now comes with a slightly deeper and richer tone. The iconic Chinese dragon emblem is well known throughout the region and has been retained. It will now appear at the nose of every Cathay Dragon aircraft.
When asked if the new design may alienate passengers from the mainland, given the country’s close affinity with the brand, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of marketing, loyalty programmes and CRM Julian Lyden said that actually he expected the opposite to happen.
“On the contrary, the aim of this [new design] is to give people leaving the mainland reassurance that they’re connecting through a single airline,” he said. “Dragonair has such great brand equity with the mainland, so we’re retaining links such as the colour and the dragon emblem on the front.”
The first rebranded Cathay Dragon aircraft to feature the new livery design will take off in April 2016.