ANALYSIS: Cathay tightens grip on London-Hong Kong route

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Cathay Pacific is tightening its grip on the London-Hong Kong route with the recent announcement that it will add a fifth daily service on the route.

The additional service, which will begin on 27 June, will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, and appears to be in line with chief executive John Slosar's strategy of offering multiple frequencies on key routes.

"Cathay is consolidating its position on the key Hong Kong-London market," says Henk Ombelet, senior aviation analyst at Flightglobal consultancy Ascend.

That consolidation comes at a time when a number of other carriers have withdrawn from the market recently.

From March 4 Air New Zealand will cease its daily Hong Kong-London service. In announcing that it would cease the service, Air New Zealand said that the route "would not become profitable in the foreseeable future".

The announcement was not surprising given that it came the same day as Air New Zealand and Cathay received clearance from competition authorities to enter into an alliance on services between New Zealand and greater China.

Qantas also ceased flying on the Hong Kong-London route in March last year and seems unlikely to return as it will move its hub for European services to Dubai from April.

On a smaller scale, Hong Kong Airlines also ceased its daily services to London-Gatwick in August last year, citing poor loads.

Overall, the market between London and Hong Kong has slowed considerably since peaking in 2008 when there were nearly 1.3 million seats available on the route. In 2013, this came down to 880,000 seats.

london hong kong share 

"The total market has returned to the level it was at in 2005 as the economic crisis has taken its toll, but Cathay has increased its market share from 40% to 63%," says Ombelet.

"That has put in the airline in a good position to benefit from an upturn."