Few companies last seventy years in our modern world and even fewer non-government airlines have survived. Carriers in Asia have come and gone over the decades but Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) has maintained services since 24 September, 1946 from its base in tiny Hong Kong. They have survived SARS, hijackings, the handover of HK back to China and several economic crises.
I fell in love with Cathay Pacific in 1971 on my birthday and today, they are my third favourite airline. I have rated its booking systems, check ins, service, meals etc and come up with a rating of 98.5% over my many years of relationship with them! Every flight I have had with them has been a delight. Cathay Pacific is certified by Skytrax as one of the few five star airlines in the world with high safety rating, good food and impeccable service plus their amazing Hong Kong airport lounges.
Cathay Pacific sets a standard that many airlines will never be able to match! Contrast an American Airlines flight from let’s say Los Angeles to Hong Kong (AA started this service this month) with one run by Cathay going the opposite way. Chalk and cheese! For example, both airlines run 777s on the service. Cathay has nine seats across in Economy and AA ten across.
Cathay was started by an Australian Sydney H de Kantzow and American Roy C Farrell on 24 September, 1946 with a share capital of one dollar each! In 1948, what is now the Swire Group first invested in Cathay and continues to today to be the airline’s largest shareholder. De Kantzow died in a car crash in 1957, six years after he left Cathay. Farrell was forced to sell much of his share in the company because the British Colonial government of Hong Kong would not permit an American to have a controlling share of a British regsitered company. He also established Amphibian Airways in the Philippines before returning to Texas where he ran an oil company. He sold his remaining interest in Cathay Pacific in 1953.
Cathay is the Anglicised version of Catai, the name given to China by the early European explorers such as Marco Polo. It is a derivative of Khitan, the name of the people who ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125. (Cathay’s frequent Flyer program is the Marco Polo Club).
The two added Pacific because Farrell believed that the carrier would fly over the Pacific Ocean. (He was right).
- 70 Boeing 777s
- 42 Airbus 330s
- 21 747 Freighters
- Five Airbus 340s
- Five Airbus 350s (above- Source: Cathay Pacific)
They are retiring their last three Boeing Passenger 747s next week.
Happy Birthday Cathay Pacific for tomorrow. Long may you fly.