Refining the brand at the World’s Best Airline
There are changes in the air at Cathay Pacific Airways Limited.
The Hong Kong-based airline has subtly refreshed its logo, and is moving ahead with a new lounge at Tokyo Haneda International Airport—the first for a non-Japanese airline—that embraces its new branding philosophy.
Cathay Pacific was also recently recognised as the World’s Best Airline for 2014 by Skytrax at the World Airline Awards, with nearly 19mn travellers having their say on the top-performing firms in the sector.
“It’s nice that people are noticing and appreciating what we are doing”, Nick Hays, head of marketing and sales for Cathay Pacific’s Japan office, told BCCJ ACUMEN. “This year’s award is the fourth for Cathay, which is more than any other airline.
“Unlike some airlines, we don’t saturate the media with advertising to spread our name around”, Hays said. “We’re a little more understated. We prefer to focus on making sure that our customers are happy with what we do because, quite simply, satisfying our customers is the best investment we can possibly make”.
Bearing this in mind, the airline has no intention of resting on its laurels and is launching a series of new routes in the coming months.
“We began non-stop flights from Hong Kong to Manchester on 8 December, which complements our existing five daily flights between Hong Kong and London”, he said. “We believe this opens up a lot of new opportunities for us from Japan, as it makes Manchester just one stop from Japan”.
A new route to Zurich is scheduled to open in March, followed by a link to Boston in May.
“The demand is there for all these destinations, and we are a network carrier, so we are able to feed in traffic from all over the world through Hong Kong”, he added. “The more we are able to build that network, the more competitive we become as the economies of scale can be huge”.
Hays’s placement in Japan follows a two-year spell in Dhaka, Bangladesh, before which he was based at the airline’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Originally from Cambridgeshire, he finds Tokyo “a fantastic place to live”, and is part of the firm’s 350-strong team across the country.
Cathay Pacific currently operates five flights a day to Hong Kong from Narita International Airport, as well as two daily flights from Haneda.
With its sister airline Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited, the carrier has routes from Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Okinawa, and flies charters on demand to and from other cities around the nation.
Hays believes the worst has passed of the industry-wide slump in passengers, that was due to economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions between China and Japan.
“On the passenger side, things are looking good”, he said. “Hong Kong people love Japan; this is a very popular destination, and the weak yen recently has made Japan even more attractive”.
With outbound figures improving, Cathay Pacific added a fifth daily flight from Osaka to Hong Kong, and increased the size of its aircraft flying into Fukuoka. Additional flights will be introduced to Sapporo, bringing the total to two per day during the upcoming winter sport season.
In total, the Cathay Pacific Group, with joint-venture and codeshare services, serves 189 destinations in nearly 50 countries around the globe. With 145 aircraft in operation and a further 84 on order, it also has one of the youngest air fleets in the industry.
Hays says that the airline is constantly looking to expand in what is a fiercely competitive market, while at the same time striving to improve its products and services.
“We’re evolving our brand in some exciting ways, and the refreshed brushwing logo symbolises this”, he said.
“We aim to build on our existing reputation for excellent service, reliability and safety by embracing a more design-led philosophy. We hope that this will help make the customer experience more enjoyable, uncomplicated and relevant to what passengers aspire to today.
“Our passengers will start to see this approach come to life as we make changes over the next 18 months, and the first example of this is the creation of the new Cathay Pacific Lounge at Haneda.
“We like to think that Cathay Pacific provides ‘service straight from the heart’ that truly separates us from others”, he added. “It’s that sort of intuitive approach across everything that we do that we take real pride in”.
Refreshed look for lounge
Combining the comforts of home with the luxury of a top airline, a new lounge from Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is set to provide a welcome haven from the stresses and strains of international travel.
Located at Tokyo Haneda International Airport, the lounge is a space for the exclusive use of first and business class customers, where they can relax, freshen up or work before their flight.
About twice the size of the firm’s lounge at Narita International Airport, and with an area of nearly 1,000m2, the new lounge is the largest that the airline operates outside Hong Kong, and can accommodate nearly 200 people.
The simple yet sophisticated design—part of the airline’s new brand that is to be refreshed over the coming year—is the brainchild of top London-based creative firm Studioilse. Windows on three sides not only provide an unspoilt view of the runway, but also a light, natural ambiance.
The timber walls and ceiling are warm and inviting, while the bronze features and limestone flooring create a space with the elegance of Asia.
Designed with a residential ambience in mind, the lounge offers passengers a range of seating options, including areas for dining and drinking, as well as what the airline calls its Personal Living Spaces. It also boasts some new designs for the firm’s popular facilities, as well as top quality, bespoke designer furniture to help travellers unwind.
Passengers can enjoy excellent food and beverages provided by the Hotel Okura Group, internationally renowned for its quality services and hospitality.
The lounge also features Cathay Pacific’s signature Noodle Bar, which is very popular at its Hong Kong lounge and offers a selection of Asian noodles—including dandan noodles and wonton noodle soup—freshly prepared by specialist chefs.
An authentic Japanese breakfast or French toast is available until 11am, while a wide selection of light options such as wraps, salads and pastries, are served throughout the day.
For those wishing to relax with a drink, bartenders are on hand to create a variety of coffee variations and alcoholic beverages, including freshly blended cocktails and the airline’s signature drinks.
Not content with simply providing a social environment, the airline has also created a dedicated work area for busy passengers, with individual workstations, PCs and a printer.
The lounge, located near gate 114 in the international passenger terminal, has free Wi-Fi access throughout.