Hutchison Whampoa

lai see

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 12:00am

Class of its own

So, Cathay Pacific wants to fly to Moscow. According to chief executive David Turnbull, flights to the Russian capital will start in July next year. Cargo and 'front-end' demand (the latter being industry-speak for first-class and business passengers) is expected to be strong.

But are Cathay executives aware that they will be going head to head with a budget airline on this route?

The competition in question is Aeroflot. Until about a year ago, Lai See regularly flew first class from Hong Kong to London via Moscow on the Russian flag carrier - for all of $8,000 one way.

Before you laugh, it was a not a bad deal: good food including four varieties of caviar, a fantastic vodka selection and frequently empty 'front-end' cabins. Economy class was routinely packed with passengers who were presumably paying, as well as eating, peanuts.

There were, admittedly, some drawbacks to first class Aeroflot-style, including a seven-hour stop in Moscow and Russian films dubbed into English by one woman reading all the characters' lines in a deadpan monotone.

But still, cheap at twice the price.


Hutchison Whampoa managing directory Canning Fok Kin-ning yesterday professed to be very pleased with his company's US$2 billion disposal of its 20 per cent stake in P&G's China operations. 'I was so happy that I went for a drink last night,' Mr Fok told Reuters.

On a more sober note, Hutch is thought to be planning many more such disposals to plug another huge 3G profit hole this year. Mr Fok could end up drinking a lot.