Cathay Pacific Airways, the flagship carrier of Hong Kong, will launch a daily, non-stop flight from New Delhi in India to Bangkok in Thailand from March 30, 2009.
This mainly follows Thailand exempting the tourist visa fee for three months, from March 5, 2009, the airline said. Thailand used to give Indian citizens visa on arrival for a stay not exceeding 15 days.
Bangkok, which has a high inflow of tourists, is generally considered as a destination for a “short getaway.”
The media quoted Tom Wright, Cathay Pacific Airways’ general manager for India, Middle-East, Africa and Pakistan, as saying at a press conference in New Delhi: “Bangkok is not new to us, and it is well-known how popular and affordable Bangkok is. We believe that there is untapped potential and this new route promises to serve the unmet needs.”
The non-stop flight between Delhi Bangkok takes five and a half hours.
Cathay Pacific’s Delhi-Bangkok daily flight will leave New Delhi at 3.30 a.m. and reach Bangkok at 8.55 a.m. The flight will leave Bangkok at 5.25 p.m. and arrive at New Delhi at 7.45 p.m. (local time).
The Delhi route was important for Cathay Pacific as it contributed to around 35% of the total revenue earned from the airline’s operations in India, Tom Wright said.
Cathay Pacific, based at Hong Kong International Airport, currently operates flights to the Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore – with about 45 flights in all to these cities.
The airline has two daily flights from Delhi to Hong Kong, 8 flights a week from Mumbai, 7 flights from Delhi, and 4 flights from Chennai, Tom Wright said. He added that the weekly frequency of the Hong Kong-Mumbai flight would be increased to daily services and that the timing would be changed to suit the convenience of passengers. Cathay Pacific also operates daily flights from Mumbai to Dubai.
On the impact of the global economic slowdown, Tom Wright told reporters that some markets in India had been adversely affected. However,” he added, “it is difficult to quantify this number as we have grown the number of flights from 8 in 2008 to 35 now and are looking at this region for more growth.”
He said Cathay Pacific planned to make its cargo network in India stronger since the airline “sees a huge opportunity to expand its cargo business in the country.” Cathay Pacific has put off plans to build a new cargo terminal at the Hong Kong International Airport with a view to keeping capacity expansion in line with market demand, he added.
The carrier operates a cargo network that covers 31 destinations across the world.
In a statement, Cathay Pacific Airways said it suffered a net loss of $85.5 billion in the first half of 2008, as against a net profit of about $333 million in the same period in 2007.
The carrier’s passenger load factor, or the proportion of seats filled on its flights, dropped by 5.3% in 2008 from a year before to 75.5.
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