Cathay Dragon ends – had 14 million seats and 51 routes in 2019

Cathay Dragon ends – had 14 million seats and 51 routes in 2019 (2)

Cathay Dragon ended operating on 21 October. It had 51 routes, with most expected to be taken up by either Cathay Pacific or the Group’s low-cost subsidiary, HK Express.

Cathay Dragon, formerly Dragonair, ceased operating with immediate effect on 21 October. 

It is expected that most of its routes will be taken over by Cathay Pacific, which fully owned the regional operator.  Or by HK Express, which Cathay Pacific acquired in July 2019.

Cathay Dragon had 14.1 million seats in 2019, OAG data indicates, up by fewer than five million since the start of the decade. 

However, its CAGR – of 4.3% – was nearly five times greater than its parent, although clearly from significantly different bases.

The regional unit had 30% of the Group’s seats last year and 15% of Hong Kong’s.  Both were pretty much unchanged in recent years.

With 63% of seats last year, Dragon revolved around its A330-300s.

Cathay Dragon ends – had 14 million seats and 51 routes in 2019

Cathay Dragon had 14.1 million seats in 2019 and 30% of the Group’s seat capacity. Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Cathay Dragon had 51 routes across 14 countries

Cathay Dragon had 51 routes in 2019, with Shanghai Pudong, Kaohsiung, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Hangzhou its top-five by seats.

It added only one route last year: Niigata.

It fully replaced its parent to Kuala Lumpur in 2017, showing the respective role of both airlines.  In this instance, a lower-yielding point-to-point market with significant LCC competition, with Dragon’s lower costs helping performance.

Yet the two carriers overlapped on six routes.  They complemented each other from Hong Kong to Taipei, Shanghai Pudong, Beijing, Tokyo Haneda, and Denpasar.

Read more: Emirates and flydubai overlap on 33 routes.

It also overlapped on 12 routes with HK Express, led by Fukuoka, Phuket, Haneda, Ningbo, and Da Nang.

The regional operator served 14 countries last year. With almost six in ten seats across 23 routes, China was overwhelmingly key.   

Nepal, Bangladesh, and Indonesia were its least-served nations. Indonesia, bottom, had just 91,000 seats and two routes: Denpasar and Medan.

Cathay Dragon ends – had 14 million seats and 51 routes in 2019 (3)

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

10 Cathay Dragon routes now unserved – for now?

12 (or almost one-quarter) of Cathay Dragon’s routes had no direct competition in 2019. 

These were: Changsha, Davao, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Guilin, Medan, Niigata, Penang, Qingdao, Tokushima, Wenzhou, Zhengzhou.

Of these, Medan ended in October 2019, while Biman Bangladesh restarted Dhaka in May 2020.

Read more: Dhaka’s top unserved routes analysed.

None of the 10 remaining routes are now served.  If these return, they’ll be operated by Cathay Pacific’s narrowbodies, transferred from Dragon, or by HK Express. If the latter, they’ll lose connectivity over Hong Kong. 

It is highly likely that Cathay Pacific will take over the 135-kilometre link to Guangzhou, which Dragon operated 14-weekly mainly using A330-300s and with a block time of up to 1h 35m (!). 

Over 225,000 connected over Hong Kong to/from Guangzhou last year, booking data via OAG Traffic Analyser reveals. San Francisco, New York JFK, Boston, Guilin, and Taipei were the top O&Ds.

Cathay Dragon ends – had 14 million seats and 51 routes in 2019

These 10 routes are now unserved. Will Cathay Pacific or HK Express serve them? If the latter does, they’ll lose connectivity over Hong Kong. Source: OAG Mapper.


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