Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific eyes passenger health and wellness as potential new revenue stream

  • New yoga offering just the start, says carrier’s CEO Rupert Hogg
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 February, 2019, 8:02pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 February, 2019, 9:58pm

As aircraft design helps planes fly further and passengers spend more time in the sky, airlines are looking at how to cash in by expanding their health and wellness offerings.

Cathay Pacific Airways is no exception and has joined a list of high-end carriers that provide yoga and meditation, as part of a wider focus on customers’ well-being.

For Rupert Hogg, the carrier’s CEO, the company is merely responding to passenger demand.

“You can see where we’re going with this, and there is big customer demand, but it’s very early days,” he said, speaking to the Post on the sidelines of a Oneworld airline alliance event in London.

From fitness on the ground to food in the air, premium airlines have been rethinking what they offer as more fliers take journeys of longer than 14 hours.

Qantas kick-started the yoga trend by offering classes and meditation, complete with an instructor, to business-class passengers using the airline’s Perth-London route, a flight that lasts 17 hours and 25 minutes.

The Australian airline, which has been pushing for aircraft to fly up to 20 hours, also teamed up with experts to produce a food menu that was better for long-haul travellers.

Singapore Airlines, which runs the world’s longest non-stop flight, to New York in 18½ hours, used similar techniques to offer a more long-distance-friendly food menu.

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Cathay meanwhile has teamed up with high-end fitness company Pure Group to launch a new service, alongside the massage treatments it already offers first-class customers.

The partnership includes an arrangement for the airline’s frequent fliers to have access to Pure’s gym and yoga facilities in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong carrier is also opening a yoga room for premium passengers but instructed by a teacher on a television screen.

Safa Al-Sairafi, a yoga instructor from Bahrain, was among the first customers who stopped by to do some exercise at the new facility in the business-class lounge.

“To come here and stretch is so important because you’re up in the air and so dehydrated,” she said, as she waited for her onward flight, having arrived from Perth.

Her only suggestion for improving the service was to add a qualified yoga instructor.

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“When it comes to doing stretches, people think they’re doing exactly that,” she said. “But alignments can be wrong, which can cause injuries, and that is where you need a proper instructor.”

Matthias Zakrzewski, a regular traveller who works for a German bike manufacturer, welcomed the health zone as the first step, and hoped the airline would go further.

“A gym would be really awesome,” he said. “Being a frequent traveller means you’re spending a lot of time in the lounge. Doing some exercise during your trips would be a really good balance for your health.

“A sauna with a nice view over the airfield would be amazing.”

Not ruling anything out, Hogg said: “Well, who knows, it’s early days in a space that is very good. Let’s see where we go next.”