Karachi becomes the 50th destination
An interview with Tony Tyler of Cathay Pacific
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
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
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.