CATHAY Pacific Airways, which claims to be the biggest promoter of Hongkong outside the territory, is seeking a new agency to mastermind its $250 million worldwide advertising account. Leo Burnett, which has handled the account for 10 years, has elected to bow out of the competition to find an international agency capable of promoting the airline in the run-up to its 50th anniversary in 1996. Marketing communications manager Alastair Blount said internal resources would be strengthened to match the consultancy-style agency relationship to be forged with the new agency. He said: ''What we require is more of a partnership in marketing. We need a strong management group of people in Hongkong who can help us with creative solutions to marketing problems.'' The airline, which is forecasting that inflation, increased competition and last month's strike will make big inroads into revenue this year, aims to develop customer relations as part of an integrated marketing drive. It will start building direct relationships with frequent flyers and regular holiday-makers rather than relying on big advertising campaigns. Mr Blount said: ''We have a situation where we have increased capacity with other carriers, general recession and a lot more competition on just about every route. ''It is also a time where we are about to take possession of a whole fleet of Airbuses and Boeing 777s, so that in 1995 the average age of aircraft in Cathay will be around four years. ''Then we have got to look at Chek Lap Kok. We are repositioning Cathay in line with the future, with our publicly stated commitment that we want to be the best airline of the decade.'' Cathay will conduct talks with a selection of top agencies, whittling these down to about four for the formal pitch. The new agency is unlikely to be in place until the middle of next year. Mr Blount said the switch of agency and marketing direction was in the pipeline long before the recent strike. He added: ''75 per cent of our customers are outside Hongkong. The majority by far are from Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia, and the bruising that Cathay may have suffered in Hongkong is something which is certainly to be addressed, but I don't think this pitch has any direct linkage.'' The company already has hired international design consultancy Landor to revamp the old green-and-white corporate identity.