Here’s an unsurprising piece of news: more people travel during peak holiday periods. Cathay Pacific knows this and tries to adjust its schedules accordingly.
Head of Passenger Network Jasmine Hui says: ‘We have been trying seasonal destinations since we launched Barcelona in summer 2017. It was an obvious seasonal route as people don’t travel to Europe for holiday in winter.’
But it’s not solely about short-term revenue opportunity. The routes also give the airline the chance to test and develop year-round services. Barcelona was the first seasonal route to become a permanent service.
‘For a route to change from seasonal to year-round it needs to be supported by corporate travel,’ adds Hui. Spain is a growing destination for the Hong Kong market, so rather than cannibalising the existing Madrid service, Barcelona helped to bolster this demand.
Launching seasonal services also helps the airline stimulate the market. One of this summer’s new seasonal routes is to Komatsu in Japan. Cathay Pacific used to operate charters there for organised tour groups; now it’s a twice-weekly summer route helping people enjoy the scenery of Mount Haku.
There are also peak opportunities for established ‘trunk’ routes. This summer, Madrid and Paris will get step-ups in frequency. During the winter season (October until the end of March) there are 10 flights a week to Paris. But from June, this will increase to 12, and on 1 July, twice-daily. Hui says: ‘Where there’s demand at peak times, seats become less available and sometimes more expensive. Added capacity can therefore stimulate demand.’
In Paris’ case, it’s leading to an unusual anomaly. ‘Normally when you build up a schedule you want to diversify the timetable,’ says Hui – most second daily flights depart with an interval of 12 hours. Not so for Paris. ‘We saw that there was demand for the midnight departure, so the final two flights we are adding in July depart within an hour of the existing daily flights. That’s bold – around 600 seats in an hour.’