Cathay Pacific to Cut Cairns ConnectionCathay Pacific is reportedly ending service to Cairns after 25 years on the Cairns-Hong Kong route. According to TropicNow, Cathay Pacific yesterday advised Cairns Airport of the commercial decision to end service to Far North Queensland. At this stage, the Cairns-Hong Kong flights would cease operating when the northern winter season begins on 27 October 2019.

No official announcement has been made yet by Cathay Pacific, and flights beyond 27 October are still currently available for sale.

Cathay Pacific currently flies between Hong Kong and Cairns four times per week. These flights continue to/from Brisbane, although Cathay Pacific is not allowed to convey passengers on purely domestic itineraries between Brisbane and Cairns due to cabotage restrictions. Airbus A330-300s are used on the route.

With the Cairns stopover being removed, all Cathay Pacific flights between Brisbane and Hong Kong will become non-stop services. Getting rid of the Cairns layover will shave around two and a half hours off the flight time between Brisbane and Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific has been the only airline on the Cairns-Hong Kong route since Hong Kong Airlines ended flights between Hong Kong and Cairns last October. Hong Kong Airlines had operated a Hong Kong-Gold Coast-Cairns-Hong Kong triangle route. The loss of Cathay Pacific flights will be a huge loss, not only to Cairns residents, but also to Queensland’s tourism industry.

Other than Hong Kong, international destinations served from Cairns Airport include Auckland, Port Moresby, Singapore, Bali, Tokyo, Osaka and Shenzhen. There are also seasonal flights to Seoul and Shanghai.

A lot has changed in the competitive landscape since Cathay Pacific started flying to Cairns back in 1993. One AFF member speculates that changes in cargo demand could also play a part in Cathay Pacific’s commercial decision to terminate the Cairns-Hong Kong route.

The main reason they came was because of the freight to HK (live fish). Very disappointing as even though the service has gone downhill recently you could still get to Europe easily, worse that I’ve just transferred Amex points to them!

Qantas has been codesharing on Cathay Pacific’s Cairns-Hong Kong route since last October. Perth-Hong Kong is the only other Cathay route between Australia and Hong Kong that is available as a Qantas codeshare. Qantas and Cathay Pacific are currently trying to get an expanded codeshare partnership approved which would allow Cathay Pacific to codeshare on Qantas flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to Hong Kong. Virgin Australia has objected to the proposal and the International Air Services Commission has not yet approved it.

Meanwhile, there have been rumours that Emirates could be considering flying to Cairns. If true, this would be a welcome development.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]