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Bits: Cathay Pacific drops Gatwick and Dublin, Ryanair buys easyJet’s Stansted slots

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News in brief:

Cathay drops seven international routes including London Gatwick

An internal memo seen by the South China Morning Post confirms that Cathay Pacific will permanently axe seven long-haul routes, amongst them London Gatwick and Dublin.

Cathay expects to operate less than 25% of its 2019 capacity in the first half of 2021 and no more than 50% across the entire year.

Cathay’s situation is even more dire due to a difficult 2019. Whilst other airlines saw record traffic, Cathay Pacific was already dealing with dampened demand due to the ongoing Hong Kong democracy protests. Inbound international traffic had already collapsed by 46% this time last year compared to 2018.

The following routes will be permanently dropped:

  • Gatwick
  • Brussels
  • Dublin
  • Maldives
  • Newark
  • Seattle
  • Washington DC

The loss of the Maldives removes an option for a two-centre Avios-funded holiday, whilst the loss of Dublin and Brussels removes two low-tax options for Avios flights to Hong Kong.

According to the memo, all the axed routes were losing money.

easyJet sells its Stansted slot portfolio to Ryanair

As we covered in the Summer, easyJet has decided to withdraw from Stansted airport in favour of continued growth at London Gatwick.

There will still be some services to the airport but these will be operated by aircraft and crew based elsewhere.

easyJet has confirmed that Ryanair has purchased 312 of its weekly slots at the airport. As each flight requires two slots, this equates to 22 new Ryanair services per day.

Ryanair will not have paid a huge amount for the slots, as Stansted is not full. It could have let easyJet surrender the slots and then take its chances with a request to pick them up, but paying cash guarantees that the better timed ones do not go elsewhere.

Based on adding together 2019 numbers, Ryanair will now carry 84% of all passengers from Stansted. This is a little inflated, however, as not all easyJet traffic will cease. Jet2 will now become the second largest operator at the airport.

It looks like US airline JetBlue will also be arriving at Stansted soon. More on this tomorrow.

Comments (21)

  • Baji Nahid says:

    Feel sorry for cathay, they’ve had a lot of problems and its honestly affected them from the protests to this virus and also the chinese gov apparently cracking down on staff too. Really sad to see a great airline slowly crumble.

    Also i was in complete shock ryanair pulling out of the scotland market from STN, could we maybe see a comeback?

  • tony says:

    There was a very good piece on Swire Group and Cathay in the FT about a week ago. https://www.ft.com/content/f92e2b3f-2399-4ff1-b619-7274a0c91ba4 if you have a subscription.

  • Froggitt says:

    Just 20 people on the Cathay flight into LHR yesterday.

    • Polly says:

      A real shame. Great airline for intra Asia flights on avios. Love their biz products. Can’t see them being allowed to collapse completely tho.

      • tony says:

        Were they? I thought availability unless you were transiting HK had become pretty useless. Was certainly my experience when looking for flights in summer 2020. The FT article suggests that whilst the Swire family are very much attached to the business, the current situation isn’t sustainable. If they sell up, maybe CNAC buy that stake and it just gets bundled into Air China.

        • Polly says:

          Often found more J availability’ than Y tho. Obvs mixed and matched between Dragon and CX down through the years. Shame the former now gone too.

        • Track says:

          J class availability on intra-Asia flights disappeared via Avios (and to all Cathay Partners, such as Alaska Airlines) while lots of J availability was on AsiaMiles — was done to beef that program clearly.

          There was something like 28 days rule — before which no J class to parters released. And those seats released were on Dragon, not CX. CX J seats were only available as part of married segments, which means you have to buy a redemption from London/Europe.

          Now, I admit booking flights for Avios was convenient — but East Asia has plenty of business class options, for reasonable cash (Cathay/Dragon own fares, Malaysia business class, Thai business class often reasonably priced at all times, SQ on zone redemption) and regional low-costers have perfectly fine “premium offering” with front seats, no middle, and hot food.

          • Polly says:

            Yes, use MAS quite a lot too, mixed and matched between the 2. But obvs the odd air Asia one too. Atm air Asia are only offering us vouchers or change of dates now for cancelled flights from PEN to Kota. Now had 3 cancellations in a row from them, where they change the dates first. Anyway, we are not there sadly, so took their vouchers for some future trip, we hope.
            Feeling optimistic re the vaccine news too.

    • The real John says:

      Well there are still an average of 4 direct flights a day.

      • Polly says:

        Must be worth it for cargo, just add the few pax who need to travel. Can’t imagine there’s much pax demand atm tho between the two.

  • AJA says:

    I’ve never flown Cathay but I’ve heard good things about them so I am sorry to read this. But if they were all loss making routes it makes sense to stop operating them. I think Gatwick must be unhappy too as it’s yet another long haul option gone. Sad times.

  • Cuchlainn says:

    East Midlands (EMA) car parking ,
    Dear daughter returning (fingers crossed) home for Xmas for approx. 3 weeks on EI / Stobart and looking secure / accessible parking at either EMA ( preferable ), or close by for transport to airport.
    EMA quoting £113 for 3 weeks !! TIA

  • Nick_C says:

    RyanAir controlling 84% of passenger movements at STN is bad news for the airport owners (MAG).

  • Lady London says:

    Yes. They will never have an incentive to improve the various horriblenesses of Stansted now.

    • Polly says:

      Can it get any worse methinks. Not a chance getting into their lounge now… their Bergerac route so handy..FR really push buying lounge passes.

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