After operating several variants of the 747 on passenger flights for more than three decades, Cathay has tentatively scheduled a last revenue flight for the type. The flight will be CX543 from Tokyo Haneda (HND) back to Hong Kong (HKG) and will take place on the 1st of October 2016. The flight is scheduled to depart HND at 10:45 JST (9:45 HKT) and arrive at HKG around 15:05HKT. The HKG-HND-HKG route is currently operated by Cathay’s two remaining passenger 744’s, which have been retired from long-haul service. It is unknown if Cathay will ever operate the 747-8 on passenger flights, however it sadly seems very unlikely as Boeing has been slowing down 747-8 production in the past year due to low demand. While I may find some comfort in knowing that Cathay will still fly freighter 747’s for years to come, it’s truly saddening to see the retirement of my favorite aircraft.
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific is set to rebrand their subsidiary Dragonair as Cathay Dragon as part of its recent corporate identity campaign, in which we saw the launch of their new livery. The move would increase the amount of association between the two airlines and improve recognition of the Dragonair brand outside of China, where it conducts most of its operations. The move will not be a complete merger, and the two airlines will continue to have separate fleets, crew, routes, and operating certificates. There were rumours circulating a while back that there would be a complete merger of the two airliners someday, however I personally dismissed this rumour as a merger is highly unlikely. Cathay definitely wants to keep its status as a premium airline with an all wide-body fleet serving only major international routes such as competitors Emirates and Singapore Airlines. A merger with Dragonair and the subsequent acquisition of narrow-bodies and domestic routes would ruin Cathay’s status by turning it into a standard airline like Lufthansa, and make them lose out in their competition with EK and SQ.
Dragonair was founded in 1985 and operated as an individual airline until 2006, when it was acquired by Cathay Pacific and its parent companies Swire Group and Air China. For the past decade after the acquisition, Dragonair has been operating as a separate airline but have kept close ties with Cathay. Passengers flying a route on one airline can switch to a different flight on the other airline, and the two share loyalty programs and airport lounges among others. Cathay have also transferred some of their used A330-300’s over the Dragonair. The other major change that will be brought on by the rebranding aside from the name change is that Dragonair will receive a new updated livery, probably featuring similar color schemes and design elements that were seen on the new Cathay livery. It is unknown whether or not Dragonair will receive an updated logo with the rebranding.
More information from SCMP: http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1905776/cathay-pacific-set-rebrand-dragonair-cathay-dragon-bid-strengthen