Cathay Pacific Permanently Drops Washington DC, Newark, Seattle Routes – And Others

The Cathay Pacific route map is about to get much smaller as the Hong Kong-based oneworld airline permanently drops 7 destinations, including three to the U.S.

  • Newark
  • Washington Dulles
  • Seattle
  • London Gatwick
  • Dublin
  • Brussels
  • Male

Little is lost dropping Newark, with New York JFK still offering service. Similarly they’ll still fly to London Heathrow, just not Gatwick. But Seattle should have been a reasonable market, especially with their Alaska Airlines partnership. And Washington DC is often served by international airlines without regard to its profitability – a luxury that’s harder to afford presently.

Cathay Pacific will not be able to bring passengers to the Maldives any longer. With leisure travel returning more quickly than business travel dropping this destination surprises me.

The South China Morning Post‘s Danny Lee reports on an internal airline memo outlining the changes.

As we have previously announced, we expect to operate well under 25 per cent of 2019 passenger capacity in the first half of 2021 and below 50 per cent for the entire year,” a Cathay spokeswoman said.

“After careful consideration, we believe it is unlikely we will operate flights services to these destinations in the near future. We remain in a very dynamic situation and we will continue to review our flight network.”

The Dublin route was suspended prior to Covid-19, during last year’s protests in the city which kept people away.

In all, Cathay Pacific is going to be a much smaller airline for awhile and they will not restart service to these cities – except to the extent several years from now when travel has fully recovered and they re-evaluate opportunities.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Of course, this will affect different people differently, but this move immediately (further) decreases my personal marginal utility for AAdvantage Miles and Amex MR Points, and devalues the couple million that I already have accordingly. CX pretty easily took me to many of the places I like to go using miles, especially the places where I like to travel in otherwise too costly premium cabins, and there will be far less availability – not just a little less – once travel resumes. Not surprising, but this is a big bummer and will change my participation in the mileage hobby and leisure travel generally.

  2. Protests in Dublin last year?? What are referring to? (I know you mean HK, it’s just poorly written)

  3. Saying that Washington, DC is served by international airlines without regards to profitability is ludicrous. And reveals that you know absolutely nothing. Washington Dulles tends to be a high performer for most international airlines. Obviously now, all the demand is gone, so I’m not surprised to see Cathay go. The fact that they’re leaving also suggests it was a weak performer – not surprising given that Cathay introduced Dulles in late 2018, just before all the Hong Kong protests and now Covid. But to suggest that other airlines are flying to Dulles just for prestige? Completely unfounded. (having worked at several international airlines and domestic airlines in the groups that monitor the routes’ profitability, I can assure you that DC holds its own).

  4. @Jason, yeah, Gary knows absolutely nothing (sarcasm).

    I commend Gary for putting up with people saying insane stuff like that. He’s incredibly knowledge-able and trustworthy.

  5. @Jason – I’m not suggesting all airlines fly there without respect to profitability, just that it’s surprising to see them leave the market even when the profile alone is a reason many stay.

  6. The profile+ profitability is a reason why foreign carriers fly to Dulles. Not just the profile. Airlines actually are profitable at Dulles, as he region generates large amounts of outbound and inbound demand during normal times, at high fares to boot That’s why the carriers have been there, not just because of DC’s profile. It’s sad that Cathay is leaving for sure, but it’s not surprising, given the very very difficult situation they’re having to deal with. They didnt have time to develop the route, and now it’s going away. Tough times call for tough measures.

  7. So sad about the loss of Newark and very surprised. I flew that route about 6 times a year for 3 years and the flight was always packed in economy, premium economy, and business class. Fares were always more expensive than JFK as well. As someone who resides in South Jersey, JFK is just not a realistic option as it is in the best of times it takes over an additional hour to reach from my house and during peak traffic times or when their is an accident on the highway which seems to be every time I drove to JFK over about a 10 year time frame a good three to four additional hours. As such, I have to plan on travel time equal to 5 hours plus the 2 hours prior to arrival versus Newark where it was one hour plus the 2 hours prior to arrival. I guess I will be looking at which airline and alliance will best serve me going forward and it may no longer be Oneworld and American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qatar.

  8. I’m less surprised to see them give up on Newark/Gatwick so as to consolidate at JFK/LHR to save costs, and also that they’re giving up on Dulles which seemed to have the lightest loads (and easiest award availability) of any of the US routes. Male of course is a pure leisure route and therefore also not surprising as prosperity diminishes. But I am surprised to see them give up on SEA, which is (was?) a growing and promising market, but I guess an indication that running an airline is no longer as much about growth as survival.

    For me JFK/EWR is more or less a toss-up, and the EWR flight was mostly interesting to me for the A350. Since CX is now using the A350 to JFK (and seems to have a loads of only around 25-50 pax on most flights) I don’t imagine that we’ll see the ‘7W back at JFK anyway.

    One day historians will look back and wonder how and why terror was able to grip us so, as to coax us to willingly give up world travel and commerce with nary a whimper, for a virus dangerous to only the very elderly and sick, with a mortality rate of well under 1%. As a result of our fears and credulity, we’re now living in a much less happy and pleasant world. Truly sad.

  9. Not surprised they dropped SEA when they’ve run such regular, busy, and frequent service to YVR. It’s a pretty quick hop from YVR to SEA and there are dozens of daily flights between the two cities between Delta, Air Canada, and Alaska.

    Plus the CX lounge outbound to HK is (imo) the best international lounge at YVR with its noodle bar.

  10. Richard are you forgetting that Americans can’t go to Canada right now. Also you are on a regional jet from Sea to YVR. It adds 4/5 hours to your trip counting checkin security and boarding time. Makes no sense whatsoever for Cathay to drop the Sea route as it was just recently added.

  11. Well I love CX First and the First lounges in HKG. I have a ticketed First Class RTW20 Birthday trip in July with JFK – HKG – LHR. Dependent upon vaccine and now having CX Fly the 77W 😉

    BTW one year I flew CX 1st HKG – FRA then LH 1st FRA – IAD making my Birthday last 36 hours 🙂

  12. @Mak once again another coronavirus-denier, Why don’t you go to a COVID-unit and inhale coronavirus? Please go experience the torture of this virus.

  13. @mak will not live up to his words and offer to spend time in the wards where Covid patients are treated. These ridiculous Covid deniers are why so many countries are going back into lockdown.

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