Cathay flying high on region’s potential

October 24, 2011 | 09:26
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Asia is forecast to grow as the world’s fastest growing aviation market in the next two decades and Vietnam’s aviation industry will enjoy two-digit growth during the period.

However, many issues are holding the local aviation industry back. Cathay Pacific’s regional general manager Wilson Yam tells VIR’s Song Ngoc about the way forward.

Southeast Asia is becoming an economy with strong growth. How will this impact on the development of Cathay Pacific?

Southeast Asia has proven to be one of the very few economies to record strong growth despite difficult economic environments. Cathay Pacific is very fortunate to be in the heart of Asia and a part of this important growth.

Currently, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair operate more than 250 flights per week to the region. We will continue to strengthen our position in Southeast Asia by adding capacity and look for opportunities to increase frequency of flights to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in the coming years.

Cathay Pacific has been operating in Vietnam since 1991. What is the position of Vietnamese market and how does it relate to the company’s strategic development?

The Southeast Asia market has always been strategically important for Cathay Pacific since the airline was established 65 years ago. When we first commenced operations, all our scheduled services were to Southeast Asia destinations including Bangkok, Manila and Singapore. We are extremely delighted to witness the robust growth in this market over the years and proud to be part of it.

Cathay Pacific has operated in Vietnam for 20 years now. We started from a four-times-weekly flight through a joint venture with Vietnam Airlines to double dailies in Ho Chi Minh City and 10 flights per week in Hanoi. This market is very important and will continue to grow. We will explore opportunities to operate to more points in Vietnam and increase our frequencies.

Compared to other countries like Singapore, the Philippines or Malaysia, what advantages does Vietnam have to develop the aviation industry? What are the biggest challenges that hinder the development of Vietnam’s aviation sector to meet demand?

One of the most valuable assets Vietnam has is its enormous population of over 90 million and a strong young workforce. These translate to huge economic growth potential and a large client base for outbound travel.

When Vietnamese become increasingly affluent, its air travel market will naturally boom.  How we go about meeting this demand will be one of the key drivers of the growth and sustainability of Vietnam’s aviation industry.

What Vietnam should do to turn itself into a big world transit centre as Hong Kong does?

To make that goal come true, Vietnam needs to vigorously develop its airport infrastructure to catch up spiraling transport demands. At first Vietnam should focus in the scope of airports but not running after quantity. The Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports should be expanded in space, making them on par with other global airline hubs with augmenting aircraft numbers and they must grow into world-class transit venues.

Parallel to this is the need to ameliorate the quality of a broad range of associated services like airport logistics, goods transit and utilities services (shopping, food and entertainment, for example). As to passengers, each flight is currently not simply to move from one location to another. You should strive to make every journey full of joy. That is the receipt for success at big global airports in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore.

What do you think is the secret of Cathay Pacific’s success in managing areas such as diverse cultures and religions as well as strong competition from national carriers here?

Cathay Pacific people are our key to success. Over the years, we have strived to go the extra mile to deliver “Service Straight From the Heart” to ensure our passengers enjoy a pleasant journey on our flights.

Our culturally diverse staff can easily relate to how our customers feel. They are sensitive to the different needs of our passengers, no matter what their cultural or religious backgrounds are.
Our extensive international network covering more than 140 cities worldwide and relatively long history of development are our competitive advantages. Together with our strong team that delivers heart-warming services to our passengers, Cathay Pacific is able to stand out from competition in every market.

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