Cathay Pacific’s 75th anniversary: a glimpse into the airline’s achievements

From a small regional carrier to the world-leading airline, Cathay Pacific has yet proven it’s here to stay and forge a premium lifestyle brand. Cathay Pacific has now driven 75 years of glorious history with an ambitious spirit to create meaningful human connections and span the globe from Hong Kong.

Seventy-five years ago this month, Cathay Pacific inaugurated its maiden flight between Sydney and Hong Kong with its first aircraft, DC-3, known as Betsy. It has garnered several awards in the intervening years, such as the World’s Best Airline in Skytrax World Airline Award, Asia’s Leading Airline, and other prestigious countless plaudits demonstrating the greatest concentration of a world-class airline.

Cathay Pacific is the World’s fourth most historic airline-75 years of innovation and long-lasting aviation development with three-quarters of a century history.

Here are the highlights of some of the biggest achievements and significant milestones Cathay Pacific has received all these three-quarters of a century to be the World’s greatest service brand.

1946- Cathay Pacific flew its very first freight service to Sydney. Carrying 2000 day-old chicks in the crate, the DC3 propeller marked the start of airline flights, which is now preserved at Hong Kong Museum of Science and Technology.

The 1950s- Air passenger operation

 The 1950s represent the first physical reservation offices for Cathay Pacific inside the iconic Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong. How advanced the time has become, as customers no longer need to visit reservation offices for flight booking. Websites, mobile apps, WhatsApp, telephone, and travel agents have made ticket booking convenient.

In 1953, the airline commenced its inaugural flight from Calcutta to Hong Kong via Bangkok, and the service continued till 1970.

Cathay also started providing heartfelt inflight service, including hot drinks, soups, hot meals, and ice creams above Hong Kong skies on propeller aircraft in the 1950s.

1960s-Jet era of Cathay Pacific

The 1960s have been an amazing decade for the airline as it entered the jet age, adding nine Convair jets to its fleet between 1962 and 1974. These jet-engine powered airliners expanded the network in the Asia-Pacific region and opened the door for further expansion around the World in the 70s and 80s with the entry of iconic Boeing 747s.

In September 1962, Cathay Pacific reflected its commitment to strengthening its regional network by becoming the first international airline to serve Fukuoka, Japan.

By 1964, Cathay Pacific had carried 1 million passengers, connecting people to people and places and recreating unforgettable memories.

1970s-Fleet of Boeing aircraft

Cathay Pacific saw the delivery of marmite Boeing 707, Boeing’s first jet, in the early 1970s. The aircraft left a long legacy for airlines in terms of air travel service and kicked the jet age into top gear.

In 1979, Cathay Pacific invited ‘Queen of the Skies’ Boeing 747 to pave the way for long-distance, high-volume to join the fleet. Twenty years into the World of the aviation industry, Cathay Pacific sponsored the first Hong Kong Sevens tournament demonstrating social responsibility in 1976, which it continues to do to date.

The 1980s- Inaugural flights into India

Cathay Pacific launched its operations from Mumbai, India, on January 02, 1982. It commenced flights from Hong Kong via Bangkok to Bombay and onwards to Dubai four times a week. Cathay’s Boeing 747 landed at Kai Tak-extreme airport in the World in the 1980s. The skilled pilots of Hong-Kong based airlines mastered one of the most complex approaches in the World.

1980s first flight to India

In 1989, Cathay Pacific deployed the famous Boeing 747-200 on the Bombay-Dubai route via Bangkok.

1990s-Pioneer in airline multi-services

1991-the airline of the firsts, Cathay Pacific, equipped live radio services in flight for passengers. Grabbing technological pace and sophistication, the airline rolled out Wi-Fi and live TV onboard the aircraft in 2016.

1994- Cathay Pacific launched the iconic brushwing livery on then brand new Airbus A330, simulating wings of a powerful bird inflight.

Cathay Pacific Brushwing livery
Brushwing livery

June 1994: Cathay Pacific became the pioneer airline to offer second language audio tracks in Cantonese on movies, culminating in a collection of audiobooks on Audio and Video on Demand-equipped medium and long-haul flights.

          1994: Entertainment stream for every new-era business class seat featuring small personal TV with options to watch six channels.

         1994: Widening the array of entertainment options, the airline introduced Nintendo games inflight in the year 2004.

July 06, 1998: Pioneer in commencing the first non-stop transpolar flight from New York to Hong Kong over the North Pole. The short journey route between the Asia Pacific and North America saves fuel and reduces the emission.

May 25, 1999: Cathay Pacific designed the first-class experience with seats transformable into wide, fully flat beds in the sky, complemented by luxurious bedding in a herringbone formation.

1999 also represents the airline being a founder member of the World’s leading One World Alliance.

The 2000s- Shift into the new era of service and expansion

The 2000s mark the expansion of Cathay Pacific’s global network extensively.

2001-Introduction of flight service from New Delhi utilizing the fleet of Airbus A330-300 on the Delhi-Hong Kong route four times a week. Cathay also introduced an online check-in service to expedite the boarding process and reduce passenger lines by checking in passengers prior to leaving for the airport.

Cathay Pacific A350

2008- Cathay further expanded its passenger network by launching operations to Chennai and Bangalore

2012- Cathay Pacific extended its air presence in India by launching passenger operations to Hyderabad four times a week.

2014- To offer step changes to minimize environmental impact, Cathay Pacific became the foremost carrier to make long-term jet fuel investment by delivering 375 million gallons of low-carbon aviation fuel. Cathay initiated investment in biofuel production long before sustainability gained public consciousness.

May 2016- Cathay Pacific performed the World’s longest flight with its first Airbus A350 using a blend of biofuel on the Toulouse-Hong Kong route.

2016- The carrier revamped the service with the launching of Wi-Fi, brand new business, premium economy, and economy class on fuel-efficient and light aircraft. Cathay Pacific bid goodbye to the entire passenger Boeing 747 fleet for scraping and recycling, 90% of whose materials were salvaged. The last 747 passenger aircraft retired with a low-pass above Victoria Harbour.

2016- An entry into the new era of efficiency with the arrival of Airbus A350, 25% more fuel-efficient than aircraft it replaced.

2017- Besty Beer, the World’s first hand-crafted bottled beer available at 35000 feet, tantalize tastebuds as part of the airline’s customer-centric ethos to improve beer taste at an altitude.

2019- The World’s first airline to introduce plant-based alternative Omnipork as part of its commitment to creating a quality inflight dining experience of the future offered to business class passengers on all long-haul flights from Hong Kong.

2020- Move towards environmental sustainability by removing 32 million plastic straws, stirrers, and other plastics to turn today’s waste into tomorrow’s resource in 2019 and over 43 million pieces or 11% single-use plastics in 2020.

2021- New era of young passenger fleet and entertainment options. Cathay Pacific pursued a young passenger fleet with an average fleet age of just 6.5 years, constituting new, technologically advanced, fuel-efficient aircraft. The latest inflight entertainment includes 4K UHD screens and brand new cabins to be launched in Airbus A350, A321neo, and Boeing 777-9X.

Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific A321neo

Many airlines have entered and departed in the last 2or 3 decades. But Cathay Pacific has been achieving exhilarating successes over the past 75 years, connecting people to unserved or underserved destinations, operating a fleet of 180 aircraft featuring award-winning cabins and enduring unyielding commitment to valuable customers.

As a leader in sustainable initiatives, Cathay Pacific commits to expand efforts in the area of environment, community, biodiversity, and corporate social responsibility. Recently, it committed to using sustainable aviation fuel and pledged to be carbon net-zero by 2050.

75 years of connecting the World and drawing on its legacy

The full-service five-star international airline in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is the fourth most historical airline that has garnered a quartet of Skytrax World’s Best Airline Awards, recognition of being the World’s 10 Cleanest Airline for five consecutive years. Transporting passengers and cargo globally, Cathay operates one of the youngest fleets consisting of both widebody and narrowbody aircraft. Besides the airline’s glorious diamond-jubilee journey to record-setting achievements and technological innovations, the airline has seen off and survived numerous human and aviation catastrophes such as the 2003 Sars outbreak, the 2007-08 global financial crisis, and now COVID-19. The adventurous operations of Cathay Pacific have ridden out the turbulences of numerous challenges but yet are well-placed to offer more than 200 destinations to its customers worldwide.

Special offers regarding the 75th anniversary of Cathay Pacific

1. Limited-edition merchandise including 1:500 scale model aircraft such as Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-6, Lockheed Tristar, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-300ER, Airbus A350-100, and brand new Airbus A321neo. These models represent seven eras in the history of the airline.

2. Signature imperial caviar and tableware to get a taste of the quintessential first-class experience at the Upper House between September 20 and October 17, 2021.

We wish Cathay Pacific Airways a vibrant future to forge travel with a new premium travel lifestyle proposition backed by the trailblazing spirit.

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