Cathay Pacific Airways has announced it will add some ultra-long distance flights from the U.S. to Asia, making up some of the ground lost with Singapore Air’s suspension of service on the world’s longest route: New York to Singapore nonstop. While nothing in the air will quite approach that nearly 19-hour slog, which ended last fall, next month Cathay will launch a daily Newark to Hong Kong nonstop flight that clocks in at 16 hours aloft. That’s in addition to four flights out of JFK, and frequencies out of L.A. too.
“We are now the fastest way to get to southeast Asia [from the United States],” said Tom Owen, Senior VP Americas of Cathay Pacific Airways. He added that the airline can offer quick connections from its Hong Kong base, including new nonstops to Yangon, Siem Reap, Da Nang, and the Maldives.
He admitted that Cathay is going against the tide as other airlines are cutting back on these marathon runs. The latest casualty: Malaysia Airlines is canceling its four-times-weekly service from L.A. to Kuala Lumpur (via Tokyo) in April because of high costs.
Owen says fuel costs are a concern and that it’s difficult to make a profit in this market. The remedy, he says, is having a mix of different classes of service that help to fill up planes. The Hong Kong based carrier, a perennial favorite in our readers’ surveys, offers four cabins, coach, premium economy, business, and first class.
The premium economy option is popular with leisure travelers who like the added legroom and amenities, but can’t justify paying business or first class ticket prices. And comfort is key when you’re in the air for 15 hours or more; in fact, some fliers actually prefer a stopover to ease the claustrophobia. But for others it’s simply about time: getting there in one day is a decided advantage for many travelers, especially if you have multiple destinations on your itinerary.