Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific teams up with local lifestyle brand G.O.D. for new amenity kits

By Raymond Kollau,

Cathay Pacific has unveiled its new amenity kits for Premium Economy Class passengers which feature exclusive designs by home-grown Hong Kong brand G.O.D. (which stands for Goods of Desire). Cathay says its design collaboration with G.O.D. took inspiration from the “vibrant culture of Hong Kong, where East meets West and age-old traditions blend with cutting-edge technology.”

G.O.D. is a leading Hong Kong lifestyle brand, whose self-proclaimed mission is to “define a new Asian derived lifestyle concept as an alternative to the established Western way of living.” The company designs and retails stylish, affordable home furnishings and tableware, as well as some fashion items and “signature items with a quirky Hong Kong feel.”

Local design
Cathay Pacific General Manager Product Toby Smith said: “As Hong Kong’s home carrier, Cathay Pacific supports local design and creative culture. G.O.D. is known for its fun, niche and lifestyle designs, which is a good fit for our Premium Economy Class. The plan is to have four designs per year, two outbound and two inbound. The hope is that they will become real collectibles and that passengers can look forward to receiving a new design every time they travel.”

The first two designs on board are called ‘Joy’ and ’Fortune’. The ‘Joy’ design depicts Chinese gods enjoying themselves inflight by sipping coffee, using the computer or reading, and is available on flights departing Hong Kong, while the ‘Fortune’ design features a Chinese-style image of auspicious clouds and will be distributed on inbound flights. The kits will be progressively made available in Premium Economy for long haul flights from mid-October.
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Innovative airlines 2011: #9 Cathay Pacific

At number 9 we find Cathay Pacific, winner of the ‘Airline of the Year’ award in 2009, and also one of the just six 5-star airlines in the world. Cathay was hit hard during the financial crisis as it is heavily exposed to business travellers from the financial sector. Cathay responded by parking aircraft, reducing routes and frequencies, and asked its staff to take unpaid leave. The airline also reconfigured its business class cabin on a number of aircraft and introduced a fee for extra-legroom seats in Economy.

As its performance has improved sharply recently, thanks to the economic growth in Asia, Cathay is investing again in its product and has launched an USD129 million upgrade program that includes a new Business Class cabin. Cathay’s new full-flat seats have a novel feature called ‘Bed Extension,’ which significantly increases the bed width (more details here).

Cathay Pacific earlier also announced it will introduce a Premium Economy product by 2012 as such a cabin would help capture passengers trading down from Business Class. Not all seating innovations turn out well however. The airline’s ‘fixed shell’ economy seats, which were introduced between 2007 and 2009, proved to be uncomfortable when put into the recline position, and following passenger complaints Cathay is changing them for a new economy seat.

To emphasize its service expertise, Cathay Pacific launched a book called ‘Service in the Sky’ in mid-2011. Written by training instructors from the airline’s ‘Inflight Services Training & Development’ department, the book contains cabin crew training modules, including 24 real case studies depicting difficult situations and recommended approaches, as well as articles on different aspects of Cathay Pacific’s service beliefs and its training philosophy and techniques.
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Emirates, Cathay, Air New Zealand latest airlines to ‘crowdsource’ new products

Earlier this year we reported how airlines such as KLM and  Virgin Atlantic are using the Internet to co-create products with the general public. Recent examples from airlines such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand, who are introducing crowdsourced products such as loyalty card designs, inflight cocktails, snacks, desserts and eyemasks, show that ‘open innovation’ is here to stay. 

Emirates ‘Skywards Future Artist Programme’
In August 2010, Emirates launched the first edition of its ‘Our Future Artists’ competition, asking artist around the world to submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on the 2011 membership cards of the airline’s frequent flyer programme, Skywards. Entries needed to reflect and interpret the mood of each of the three membership levels of the Skywards program: ‘Luxurious, elite and precious’ for the Gold tier, ‘sophistication, intelligence and richness’ for the Silver tier and ‘bold, visionary and modern’ for the Blue level. All styles and sizes of art, including sculpture, photography and paintings could be submitted. 

Out of more than 3,500 entries, a panel of industry professionals and experts created a shortlist of 4 entries for each brief, with the winning designs voted for by Skywards members. The three winning artists were Nedim Kufi (Netherlands) for the Gold card, a 3-D computer-generated image of bronze nuggets, Amir Vafaei’s (Iran) silver geometric design motif of Turkoman rugs for the Silver card, and Kambiz Sabri (Iran) was the winner for the Blue card design, a sculpture of light and transparency featuring enlarged rain drops. The winners also receive USD5,000 and will be flown to Dubai where their portfolio will be displayed at the Art Dubai fair in March 2011. Distribution of more than 5 million cards with the new design to Skyward members will begin in January 2011. 
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Airlines increasingly make iPads available to passengers in the air and on the ground

Latvian national airline airBaltic is the first airline in Europe (and the second airline worldwide) to introduce the Apple iPad for inflight entertainment. The airline has teamed up with Bluebox Avionics to make the devices available to airBaltic passengers in the coming winter season, which starts in December 2010. The fee to rent an iPad inflight is expected to be a bit more (EUR9) than the amount airBaltic currently charges for its portable IFE device. The announcement by airBaltic is the latest in a series of introductions by airlines of the popular iPad device which was launched in January 2010. An overview of the initiatives sofar.

In June 2010, Qantas low-cost subsidiary Jetstar became the first airline in the world to offer the iPad for rent in a month-long trial on the Melbourne-Gold Coast and Melbourne-Cairns routes. Passengers could rent the device for AUD10 (USD8.50, EUR7.00) for the duration of the flight. The carrier at that time said it had bought several hundred iPad devices, with thirty units available on each test aircraft. Jetstar recently revealed the test was a success and that it is negotiating with Apple for ”thousands” of the devices for its fleet. The carrier is reportedly planning to begin roll-out of the device on 55 aircraft later this month and says that, based on the popularity of the trial, the number of iPads allocated to each aircraft has substantially increased.

Malaysia Airlines
According to Flight International, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) also plans to introduce iPads onboardwithin the next six months. The carrier plans to initially introduce iPads on its A330s, which only offer main-screen entertainment, and MAS is also considering bringing iPads on board some of its B737s. Despite being a full-service carrier, MAS has not ruled out charging passengers a fee or deposit to use the iPad. One option could be for passengers to book an iPad with their ticket purchase. Read full article

Cathay Pacific’s ‘The Cabin’ lounge caters to the connected traveller

Cathay Pacific is about to open ‘The Cabin’, its latest departure lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. Designed by Foster + Partners, the concept of the 1,300-square-metre space builds on several current consumer trends, such as connectivity, individuality and a healthy lifestyle. The Cabin is separated into five different zones – The Reception, The IT Zone, The Deli, The Health Bar, and The Relaxing Zone – and introduces some innovative seating and dining concepts. Furthermore, lounge guests can use one of 21 Wi-Fi enabled iPads, pre-loaded with apps such as newspapers, magazines and games, and unlimited Wi-Fi internet is accessible through the lounge, without the need for a password. 

Cathay Solus Chair
A main feature of The Cabin is the new ‘Cathay Solus Chair’ – a futuristic bubble-like chair, which provides each person with a private space to eat, work and relax. The purpose-built unit consists of a small built-in table, coat hanger and power outlet, and each chair is hand finished by Poltrona Frau in Italy. In total there are 41 Solus chairs available in the entire lounge. 

IT Zone
The IT Zone consists of two sections: the main area and an IT room. The main area is equipped with 21 Solus Chairs, 21 iPads and a ‘Techno Bar’ with 6 iMacs, as well as plenty of power outlets. The entire back wall is made of glass with LED lighting that pulsates every half an hour to help passengers keep track of the time. The IT room has 11 private workspaces, each equipped with an iMac, a printer and a telephone. The walls are lined with either reflective white glass or sound-absorbent leather panels. There is also a meeting room with videoconferencing facilities. Read full article

Cathay Pacific customizes iPhone app for the iPad

On the same day (23 July) the Apple iPad went on sale in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific launched one of the world’s first customised airline applications for the device. In April 2009, Cathay Pacific also was one of the first airlines to develop its ‘CX Mobile’ application for multiple mobile platforms, such as BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, besides the iPhone. In addition to the functionality of the existing CX Mobile app, the iPad application now also enables users to make bookings for their Cathay Pacific flights from the device. 

The iPad app also provides users with flight schedule information and lets them manage their flight booking, check the status of their flight, and check-in. The CX Mobile app provides information on the airline’s frequent flyer program, and contains more than 70 Cathay ‘City Guides’, as well as the airline’s latest ‘Meet the Team’ advertising campaign, which stars real Cathay Pacific staff instead of actors. Read full article

Cathay Pacific and Asiana publicly share their service expertise

Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern carriers have been dominating the Skytrax World Airline Awards for years. In fact, in the past decade, British Airways (2006) has been the only Western carrier to capture the ‘Airline of the Year’ award. Skytrax surveys passengers on their opinion on 38 different items for each airline’s products and services. Two recent winners of the ‘Airline of the Year’ award, Cathay Pacific (2009) and Asiana (2010) have recently been sharing their service expertise with the outside world. Both airlines are also two of just six airlines in the world that have been awarded a ‘5 star’ status by Skytrax. 

Cathay Pacific has just launched a new book, called ‘Service in the Sky’, in which it shares its expertise in training cabin crew. Written by training instructors from the Cathay’s Inflight Services Training & Development department, ‘Service in the Sky’ includes 24 real case studies depicting difficult situations and recommended approaches, articles on different aspects of Cathay Pacific’s service beliefs and its training philosophy and techniques. The book also contains the airline’s cabin crew training modules, and cabin crew job requirements and application processes. Cathay says passengers expect more when they fly than when they travel on other modes of public transport, and while the articles are largely related to the airline’s operations, the underlying principles can easily be applied to other service-related industries. Proceeds from the book will be donated to the Sunnyside Club, a charity launched by Cathay Pacific staff. Read full article

Schiphol Airport teams up with Philips to develop ‘ambient gate’

Amsterdam Schiphol has opened a new gate at the airport’s G-Pier that is intended to make the time passengers spend just before departure as pleasant as possible. The so-called ‘Innovative Gate’ resulted from a collaborative venture between Schiphol and a large number of other parties. Philips played a key role by providing its expertise in creating ‘ambient experiences’, which basically make use of a play of different lighting fixtures, effects and colors to create different moods. The new 700m2 gate features 1,000 fluorescent LED lamps. 

Mood lighting, ‘living magazines’,  innovative seating
When passengers approach the gate, the gate is lighted using the airline’s colours and large billboards positioned at the gate entrance display photos or videos of the destination alongside flight information. A reception desk lets airlines welcome passengers, and the pre-waiting area offers different furniture elements, such as work desks for business travellers, group seats, and individual seats with enhanced privacy. The waiting area also features number of large video screens (called ‘living magazines’ by Schiphol) that show infotainment programmes. Cathay Pacific will be the first airline to use the new gate. Read full article

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Hong Kong Airport opens new SkyPier ferry transfer terminal

Air-to-rail links have been gaining ground across Europe in the past decades. Airlines such as Lufthansa, SwissAir France, and KLM have agreements with train operators to provide ‘intermodal’ journeys, which combine a flight and train travel, often in one ticket. In this way, the train effectively works as a feeder service for the airline to feed passenger to its hub airport.

On a similar note, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has just opened the SkyPier, a new cross-boundary ferry terminal that provides high-speed ferry services for transit passengers to and from the Pearl River Delta, home to around 60 million people. The SkyPier ferry service is for transit passengers only. Currently, high-speed ferries make an average of 85 trips everyday, shuttling around 5,000 passengers between HKIA and eight ports in the Pearl River Delta and Macao, including Zhongshan, Zhuhai Jiuzhou, Dongguan Humen, Guangzhou Nansha, Shenzhen Shekou and Shenzhen Fuyong as well as Macao’s Taipa and Maritime Ferry Terminal. A temporary SkyPier opened in 2003 and served almost 10 million passengers. The new 16,500-sqm permanent SkyPier is eight times the size of the temporary facility, and designed with a maximum capacity for 8 million annual passengers. 
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Cathay Pacific’s ‘I Can Fly’ course teaches young people the basics of aviation

Cathay Pacific’s ‘I Can Fly’ program is dedicated to teaching young people between 15 and 18 years old, and who are interested in aviation, the basics of the industry at no cost. ‘I Can Fly’ was launched in 2003 and every other year, several courses are organized, with 3,000 ‘students’ participating to date in Hong Kong. The carrier has just announced the fourth ‘I Can Fly’ series, which will start in February 2010. Hong Kong youth can apply until 25th December of this year, and 100 participants will be selected.

Enrolling in the ‘I Can Fly’ program is by no means a free ride. The course runs for nine weeks, with once-a-week nightly classes, and includes airport visits, one weekend of community service, and workshops with staff from Cathay’s engineering, flight control, marketing and catering departments, as well as pilots and cabin crew. As part of Cathay’s community program, Cathay Pacific staff volunteer their time to the course.
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Qantas and Cathay Pacific latest carriers to adapt premium cabins to ‘the new normal’

The economic downturn and the resulting sharp decline in premium business travel is forcing network carriers to re-think the seating configurations in their long-haul aircraft. As recovery seems not to be coming soon, airlines one by one are taking steps to rightsize their premium seating. For example airlines with a relatively large exposure to business travel, such as Lufthansa, BA,  and Qatar Airways, have already reduced their premium seat capacity, while Air France says it is accelerating the roll-out of its new premium economy class to appeal to cost-conscious business travelers.

Qantas is the latest airline to announce a reconfiguration of its long-haul fleet, saying it will replace a number of first and business class seats due to the drop in premium demand. About 15% percent of premium seats are expected to be cut. According to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce “it is very clear the productivity is not right – we have too many premium class seats on many aircraft.” Joyce admits the reconfiguration of aircrafts may cost the company “a lot of money”, but says the plan will provide “a better revenue-generating alternative.” Earlier this year, Qantas already suspended its First Class cabin on several routes, upgrading  some business class passengers to First Class instead (with business class catering) at no extra cost. Read full article

Cathay Pacific and Air Canada next full-service airlines to monetize extra-legroom seats

Cathay Pacific and Air Canada are the latest carriers to join the growing number of full-service airlines that are monetizing their Economy seats with greater legroom, such as those at the bulkhead and in exit rows. 

From December 1, Cathay Pacific passengers in economy class on long-haul flights can reserve an ‘Economy Extra-legroom Seat’ for USD100 (EUR70) each way, or by redeeming 20,000 Asia Miles. From January 1, 2010, extra-legroom seats will also be available on flights to regional destinations for USD25 (EUR17.50) or 5,000 Asia Miles. Starting from silver-tier, members of Cathay’s frequent-flier program will still be able to reserve the extra-legroom seats free of charge. The seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis though, and initially can only be reserved via phone and upon check-in at the airport. Online reservation will be available next year.
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