Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific to launch direct flights from Hong Kong to Washington, with journey taking under 17 hours

The new flight, on an A350 aircraft, is expected to cut at least two hours from the current route served by multiple airlines, where there is at least one stopover

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2017, 9:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 9:18am

Travellers between Hong Kong and Washington can from next year enjoy a non-stop journey of under 17 hours, as Cathay Pacific Airways is expected to announce next week its direct service to the US capital.

The new flight, on an A350 aircraft, will be the first commercial direct flight to Washington from Hong Kong. It will cut at least two hours from the current route served by multiple airlines, where there is at least one stopover.

It will also be the city’s longest non-stop air route and the longest flight for Cathay Pacific, its No 1 airline.

Two different sources familiar with the matter confirmed the news of Cathay’s Washington flight with the Post on Wednesday, saying it would boost Hong Kong trade and tourism links with the rest of the world.

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Cathay previously announced new connections to European destinations Brussels, Copenhagen and Dublin next year but the Post understands that two more new destinations are also in the works, with one being a mainland Chinese city.

Its sister airline Cathay Dragon, which largely focuses on regional flights, earlier said it would add Nanning to its list of destinations.

The plans for 2018 will cap off a busy and tumultuous year for Cathay, as it continued with expansion efforts but also announced it was HK$2.05 billion in the red for the first half of 2017.

The airline has made moves to trim HK$4 billion from its books by 2019, including by shedding jobs, but its attempts to reduce benefits given to pilots have been met with great resistance.

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Cathay’s Washington flight will knock American Airlines’ Dallas service, at 13,073km, off its perch as the longest flight from Hong Kong.

Its eastbound flight to JFK airport in New York, about 12,991km away, now takes around 15 hours and 40 minutes, with an eastbound flight to Washington taking about 30 minutes longer.

So its service to Washington, some 13,122km from Hong Kong, is likely to be within range of a 17-hour flight time for both the eastbound and westbound journeys, putting it within the ultra-long haul category of flights.

Non-stop long distance flights from Hong Kong have been challenging due to sheer geographical distance. Airlines attempting other long-haul routes have also faced hurdles, such as Singapore Airlines, which axed its direct Singapore to New York route in 2013 after the amount of fuel needed by the four-engine A340 aircraft proved uneconomical.

But new, longer-range fuel-efficient aircraft have made ultra long-haul routes viable again.