HONG KONG (XFNews-ASIA) - Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said it has sought permission from Hong Kong regulators to re-launch passenger flights to Shanghai and expand services to Beijing.
The airline intends to step up its mainland operations by the fourth quarter of this year.
Cathay's application comes in the wake of an agreement between Hong Kong and mainland authorities under which more routes will be freed up between the territory and the mainland.
"Cathay Pacific welcomes the outcome of the latest discussions between the Mainland and Hong Kong SAR authorities which provides for an expansion of the air services arrangements, and the opportunity for the airline to resume passenger services to Shanghai after an absence of 16 years," it said.
It said Shanghai is an important market for Cathay Pacific as the city accounts for 35 pct of the passenger market and 68 pct of the cargo market between the mainland and Hong Kong.
The increased capacity to Beijing and Shanghai is important in strengthening Hong Kong as the premier aviation hub in the Asia Pacific region as the two mainland cities together represent 60 pct of the passenger market and 85 pct of the cargo market between the mainland and Hong Kong, it added.
"We are encouraged that the overall arrangement supports the trend toward a more liberalized regime between the mainland and Hong Kong," Cathay Pacific's Chief Executive Philip Chen said in the statement.
"We hope that both parties will continue to work towards a truly open aviation environment in China such that carriers will be free to develop their business for the greater good of mainland aviation", he added.
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