Cathay Pacific to cut Vancouver-New York route next spring

Frequency on Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong-Vancouver route will also be reduced

Vancouverites will have less air access to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as of March 27, 2020, when Cathay Pacific stops flying there out of Vancouver International Airport.

The airline told Business in Vancouver in an email that the changes were "to ensure the most efficient aircraft deployment and scheduling."

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The Hong Kong-based carrier has flown out of its home base to Vancouver since 1983, and it added flights between Vancouver and New York in 1996. At the time, the route carried the airline’s only flights to the Big Apple.

Cathay Pacific then launched non-stop flights between Hong Kong and New York in 2004, and currently operates 21 flights per week on that route. The success of that route has prompted the airline, once the Vancouver-New York route stops, to add four additional non-stop flights per week between Hong Kong and New York.

Other news is that the airline next April will reduce the frequency of its Hong Kong-Vancouver flights to 14 per week, down from the current 17 per week. Cathay Pacific had bumped up its flight-frequency to Vancouver to 17 times per week, up from 14 times per week, in March 2017, when it started flying A350 planes.

“The operating aircraft on the flights will be up-gauged to a higher-capacity Boeing 777-300ER,” Cathay Pacific told BIV. Using larger planes on the route means that total capacity will remain similar. Cathay Pacific called the Vancouver route "vital" in its email.

The company has yet to post news about its changes on its website.

Vancouver International Airport CEO Craig Richmond told BIV on Sept. 12 that he is disappointed that Cathay will no longer fly to New York out of his airport.

“You don’t like to lose any flight,” he said. “I’ve taken that flight myself. It’s very popular with a lot of Vancouverites. The fact is the airline decided they’re not making enough money and they’re going to redeploy those aircraft. We would do everything we can to try to convince them if it is possible to not pull that flight, but, honestly, I haven’t had a chance to talk to Cathay. We just found out about it two days ago.”

Richmond said that the good news about flight routings out of his airport is that there are likely to be some new routes to announce soon.

“We are expecting a couple of new ones,” he said. “I can’t tell you exactly what they are — possibly inter-continental. We would have more new routes within the U.S., I think, if it weren’t for the 737-Max issue.”

More than 500 737-Max jets made by Boeing Co. and operated by several dozen airlines around the world have sat idle for the last six months following safety warnings and declarations by national governments that the planes are not allowed to fly in their airspace.

Those actions followed two major accidents:

•the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash that killed all 157 people on board on March 10

•the Lion Air Flight 610 crash that killed all 189 people on board on Oct. 29 last year.

“It has thrown all the airline schedules into a tizzy in Canada and the U.S.,” Richmond said. “We were very close to getting some new flights to go to the east coast, and now they don’t have the airplanes.”

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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