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Karachi becomes the 50th destination

An interview with Tony Tyler of Cathay Pacific Airways

Sep 18 - 24, 2000

Tony Tyler joined Swire & Sons in 1977 and moved to Cathay Pacific in 1978. He has worked for the airline in Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines, Canada, Japan, Italy and England. Tyler was appointed to the position of Director Corporate Development in November 1996 . His primary responsibility is the strategic development of the airline's network. He is also responsible at Board level for cargo, property, purchasing, personnel and the airline's approach to the year 2000 challenge. He was closely involved with Cathay Pacific's entry into the oneworld alliance. Tyler is a director of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines and a director and Chairman of the Executive Committees of both Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited and Air Hong Kong. Prior to his current position he was Director Service Delivery, with responsibility for the service offered by the airline worldwide, in the air and on the ground. He came to Karachi on the inaugural flight. Following are the excerpts from his exclusive interview with PAGE.

Pakistan has become the 50th destination for Cathay Pacific. The management of the airline has been looking at the country for a long time as a possible on-line destination because of the enormous potential of Pakistan and its strategic location. Pakistan has played a pivotal role in assisting Cathay Pacific during the Gulf war. The cordial association between Pakistan, Hong Kong and China is evident from the fact that Pakistan was among the first countries to sign the Air Services Agreement with Hong Kong after the creation of Specially Administered Region.

With the successfully launched service, we will fly to Karachi three times a week from Hong Kong. We are delighted to add the largest city of Pakistan Karachi to our network. The flight includes a stop over at Bangkok. We will be operating one of the most technologically advanced aircraft on this route an Airbus A330-300 which can carry 311 passengers. We see excellent potential for this new service over the years ahead.

The new route is expected to become popular among business and leisure travelers. Karachi, like Hong Kong, is a major trading and commercial centre offering onwards connections around Pakistan. Pakistan has established business links with Hong Kong and China. More than 25,000 Pakistanis visited Hong Kong last year. The number is likely to increase significantly with the growth of Mainland China economy. We also hope it will also be boosted by our addition of direct flights. We are starting work on a number of promotions with tourism organizations in both Pakistan and Hong Kong to encourage more people to travel between these two countries.

While Karachi is ideally located between Europe and the Far East, Hong Kong can be termed the gateway to China. Hong Kong offers flights to more Chinese cities than any other city in China. From Hong Kong it is possible to take direct flight to more than 30 Mainland cities. We are proud to be located in Hong Kong and we are very confident about its future. We also have the same sentiments for Pakistan and addition of Karachi as destination is the exhibition of our confidence. We are sure that we will be also cost competitive.

I can honestly say that setting up our new operations in Pakistan has been a very pleasant experience. It was not like going somewhere totally new. We have already worked very closely with the Pakistan Authorities for many years. My colleague Happy Minwalla by his own admission has worked for us here for many years. I thank the GoP for its best gesture in helping us in making our plans a reality.

I am confident that for Pakistanis Cathay Pacific is a known and trusted name. To reiterate this confidence let me say that Cathay Pacific operates 65 aircraft with an average age of 5.5 years. Within next couple of years we will be adding another 11 aircraft to our existing fleet.

In 1987, Cathay Pacific's status as one of the world's premier carriers was recognized when it received one of the industry's most coveted accolades: Air Transport World magazine's "Airline of the year" award. Since then it has been the regular recipient of a number of awards. During the year 1999 we carried over 10 million passengers. We have also leased 5 aircraft to Pakistan International Airline (PIA). We are confident that the lease will be further renewed on terms beneficial for both the airlines.