Months of pro-democracy protests and tension with mainland China have taken their toll on Hong Kong's top airline, Cathay Pacific.
The airline recently reported an 11.3% drop in passengers in August compared to the same period – a drastic decrease at a time when the airline can't afford it. The carrier's chief executive resigned last month, citing difficult relations with mainland Chinese government and the need for a reset.
And now, the airline is cutting back on a handful of flights – including several routes to North America. According to Airline Routes, Cathay is making the following changes to its schedule:
- New York City (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG): Three of the airline's current 21 weekly flights will be cut, starting Oct. 29.
- Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) to Hong Kong (HKG): One weekly flight will be cut, leaving just four flights a week between the two cities as of Oct. 30
- Vancouver (YVR) to Hong Kong (HKG): Three of the airline's current 17 weekly flights will be cut, starting Oct. 29
- Dublin (DUB) to Hong Kong (HKG): All four weekly flights canceled, starting Oct. 27
- Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Hong Kong (HKG): Three of the airline's current 14 weekly flights will be cut, starting Oct. 27
…among other changes, including more cuts to regional partner carrier Cathay Dragon. And that's in addition to Cathay's previous decision to stop flying as of next spring between New York City (JFK) and Vancouver (YVR) – an amazing fifth-freedom route, the term for a flight that doesn't involve an airline's hub.
Hong Kong is on the global stage as protests that began to block proposed extradition legislation have continued as a demonstration against mainland China’s creeping influence over Hong Kong life as well as the police’s at-times brutal response to protesters. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, governed separately under the principle of “one country, two systems” that was put in place when Great Britain handed back its longtime colony to China in 1997.
And while the media focus has shifted away from Hong Kong since protesters shut down the airport for two straight days last month, those protests rage on.
Cathay Pacific is clearly suffering, and that's bad news for one of the world's top-ranked airlines. Here's hoping these are the last cuts to its flights.