Cathay Pacific drops Doha, but Qatar Airways fills the void

Qatar Airways next year celebrates the tenth anniversary of its debut in the Hong Kong market having first launched flights from Doha in March 2006. The airline previously served the Doha – Hong Kong route on a twice daily basis introducing a second rotation in December 2011 and second daily service in September 2012, but scaled-back its own operations in 2014 at the time of Cathay Pacific’s entry to the market.

Cathay Pacific Airways has announced that it will discontinue its daily flight between Hong Kong and Doha with effect from February 15, 2016. The airline said the service, which launched in March 2014, is being discontinued for commercial reasons, but an ongoing partnership with Qatar Airways will see the route continue to be served on a double daily basis.

Qatar Airways next year celebrates the tenth anniversary of its debut in the Hong Kong market having first launched flights from Doha in March 2006. The airline previously served the Doha – Hong Kong route on a twice daily basis introducing a second rotation in December 2011 and second daily service in September 2012, but scaled-back its own operations in 2014 at the time of Cathay Pacific’s entry to the market.

"The resumption of our twice-daily services on the Hong Kong-Doha route will strengthen our competitiveness and leadership in one of the world's key global aviation hubs. Next year will mark a decade of successful operations for Qatar Airways in Hong Kong,” said His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways Group.

The two airlines have co-operated on the route over the past couple of years as strategic airline partners within the oneworld alliance. After Cathay Pacific ends its own flights its ‘CX’ code will remain in place on Qatar Airways’ flights between Doha and Hong Kong, while the Qatar Airways ‘QR’ code will remain on selected Cathay Pacific flights from Hong Kong to Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan. However, the ‘CX’ code will be removed from onward Qatar Airways flights from Doha to other destinations.

"Cathay Pacific remains one of our important strategic partners within the oneworld alliance and I am confident both Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific will continue to explore mutual business cooperation opportunities in the future," added Al Baker.

Cathay Pacific says that despite the route closure it “remains committed” to serving the Middle East market and we will “continue to identify opportunities to strengthen its services” to and from the region. The airline currently operates daily services to Dubai and Bahrain in addition to four flights a week to Riyadh.

Over the first six months of this year around 873 passengers a day were flying between Doha and Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific holding the greater share of the traffic (54.5 per cent). Both Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways are currently securing strong loads – Cathay Pacific with 95 per cent plus on both legs during the first half of 2015 and Qatar Airways with 90 per cent plus from Hong Kong, but with much lower levels outbound from Doha.

The growth in capacity on the city pair has resulted in traffic levels increasing in each of the last six years and the arrival of Cathay Pacific and the connection options it offers across Asia and the Pacific helped stimulate the market further in 2014. Since the start of the decade, segment demand has more than doubled with an average annual rise of 26.0 per cent, while in the first six months of this year it was up 41.8 per cent versus the same period last year.

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