A landmark public inquiry into Cathay Pacific Airways' bid to resume flights on mainland routes has been adjourned until the middle of March after the five-days originally allotted for the hearing proved insufficient for Dragonair to present its case against Cathay's application. Dragonair and Cathay have been engaged in a highly-publicised tussle over market share on regional routes with lucrative services to Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, presently dominated by Dragonair, emerging as the key bargaining chip. In further testimony to the Air Transport Licensing Authority (Atla) tribunal yesterday, lead Dragonair witness Mo Garfinkle, president of GCW Consulting, an airline planning consultancy, rejected Cathay's statement it would not largely hollow-out Dragonair's share of the China market. High Court Justice William Stone, who chairs Atla, an independent statutory body tasked with licensing Hong Kong airlines for specific air services, has set aside four-and-a-half days beginning on March 11 to hear the remainder of Dragonair's case and to allow lawyers from both airlines to make their concluding submissions. Dragonair has three witnesses still waiting to take the stand, including Francis Wai, its chief financial officer, Thomas Tsang, an executive director of both Dragonair and its parent company, China National Aviation, and Liza Ng, its manager passenger sales (overseas). Cathay director of corporate planning Augustus Tang told the tribunal last week that, while some percentage of Dragonair's market would be captured by Cathay, most of Cathay's traffic would be passengers stolen from other cities competing with Hong Kong as gateways into China. He said, of the roughly 17 million travellers bound for Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen next year, incremental market share in the region of 1.7 per cent to 5.4 per cent, depending on the destination, gained from other hubs would give Cathay at least 430,000 additional passengers. This meant Dragonair had grossly over-estimated the HK$1 billion loss in revenue it would incur in the face of head-to-head competition with Cathay to the three China destinations by 60 per cent, Mr Tang said. In response, Mr Garfinkle said Cathay's plan to suck China-bound passengers from other competing hubs was largely hypothetical and unrealistic. He said Cathay's own route forecasts, submitted in confidence as evidence to Atla, showed that as much as 60 per cent of the incremental traffic would originate from Taiwan, a key Dragonair market. 'If you look at Cathay's numbers, 60 per cent of the passengers they propose to ferry back and forth on their China flights come from Taiwan, so all this testimony and all the submissions we have heard about connecting the world to China - 60 per cent of the world [to Cathay] is Taiwan,' Mr Garfinkle said. Mr Garfinkle, who authored a large part of Dragonair's case against Cathay, also stated that the failure so far in building Chek Lap Kok as the strongest international hub airport relative to regional competitors, such as Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok, was largely due to Cathay's own inclination to sit on mature, profitable routes without developing new international destinations. He said, for instance, that Singapore capturing 49 per cent of the connecting traffic between Australia to Beijing, despite having far fewer frequencies to the mainland than Hong Kong, was largely due to Singapore Airlines having several-fold more flights to Australian destinations than Cathay.