Cathay needs to think less about savings and more about customers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 10:41pm

I refer to the report “Cathay to squeeze more seats into planes”, (October 2).

Looking at the trend across the industry, it is perhaps understandable that Cathay Pacific is following the footsteps of others to add more economy seats to its [Boeing] aircraft.

However, it could have been communicated much more tactfully rather than being done in what I think was a casual manner by the CEO. The squeezing of seats is not a minor change for the airline’s customers.

The reduction of seat width is the latest dropping of standards of what once was a luxury, top-class carrier. The food offered is increasingly unappealing, and the service standard is dropping every year. Passengers are lucky if they don’t get frowned on by a member of cabin crew, and this treatment is not confined to economy class.

What is more worrying is that this is yet another example of the chaotic state of the management team.

It is certainly a case of very bad timing, announcing the seat change when it should be celebrating its 70 years of service (by the way, how many people noticed that?) and as it said farewell to its Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

Reading the company newsletter, it is worrying that Cathay’s focus is on cost cutting. It would be delusional to think that the loss incurred from fuel hedging is the company’s only problem. However, the strategy appears to be to cover the shortfall of revenue through cost cutting, which is increasingly felt by passengers (and staff).

Consider the changes to the food offered, the level of service and their “loyalty programme”, and we may see an increasingly consistent trend.

As people inside and outside the company are braced for further rounds of cost cutting, billions are poured into consultancy firms, not to mention a rebranding exercise of the group, which I think brings limited value to the company.

CEO Ivan Chu Kwok-leung talks about the difficulties his job entails (“ ‘I have the toughest job’ ”, October 1), However, in addressing concerns over a poor outlook, rather than concentrating on how the company can capture a larger market share, he focuses on fuel savings with new aircraft.

All companies need to control costs, but that should never be its sole concern. One has to wonder about the future of the company.

Henry Ng, Discovery Bay