Bird Liveries and Logos #2 — Cathay Pacific’s Brushwing
Full Name: Cathay Pacific Airways Limited (Traditional: 國泰航空有限公司, Simplified: 国泰航空有限公司)
Founded: September 24, 1946
Fleet Size: 152
*As of June 19, 2020
Cathay Pacific is the largest passenger airline based in Hong Kong, with its hub and headquarters in Hong Kong International Airport (Chep Lap Kok). Often considered the flag carrier of Hong Kong, the airline operates an entirely wide-body fleet. It is a member of the Oneworld alliance and is rated by Skytrax as a 5-star airline. Cathay Pacific Cargo is the largest cargo airline since 2010.
History of Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific was founded by Sydney de Kantzow and Roy Farrell. Before this, they both owned/worked at the Roy Farrell Import-Export Company, which was the precursor to Cathay Pacific. Their first aircraft was a Douglas DC-3 named Betsy and carried freight between Australia and Shanghai. However, their profitable business attracted the attention of government officials of the Republic of China. After the company’s planes were detained several times in Shanghai, the duo decided to relocate to Hong Kong on May 11, 1946. Kantzow and Farrell re-registered their business as Cathay Pacific Airways Limited on September 24, 1946.
The airline was named Cathay because it was the ancient name of China given by Europeans. Pacific was added to the name since Farrell believed that the airline would, one day, fly across the Pacific Ocean. The Chinese name wasn’t settled until the 1950s, but “國泰” was used. Many other companies with the name “Cathay” in English used it as well.
The airline initially flew routes in South-East Asia and Australia, including routes from Hong Kong to Manila, Sydney, Singapore. During its first year, the airline grew rapidly, acquiring more aircraft such as the Catalina. In 1948, due to British laws, Kantzow and Farrell were forced to sell their majority stake. During this time, John Swire and Sons, now known as the Swire Group, took over management.
In the late 1940s, the Hong Kong government divided the local aviation market between Cathay and its other local competitor (and Hong Kong’s flag carrier), Hong Kong Airways. Cathay was allocated routes to South-East Asia and Australia, while Hong Kong Airways was given routes to mainland China, Korea, and Japan. On July 1, 1959, Cathay Pacific acquired Hong Kong Airways, whose routes became less viable after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the Korean War. This move allowed Cathay Pacific to become the dominant airline of Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific prospered and expanded greatly around this time. From 1962 to 1967, the airline recorded double-digit growth every year and was one of the first airlines to operate international services to Japan’s smaller major cities. In 1964, it carried its one-millionth passenger and became an all-jet airline after replacing its last Lockheed L-188 Electra with a Convair 880 in 1967. In the 1970s, the airline installed a computerized reservation system and flight simulators, while also acquiring Boeing 707s and 747s. In 1982, the airline launched Cathay Pacific Cargo, allowing Hong Kong to become one of the largest re-export trading ports in the world. The airline went public on May 15, 1986.
In the 1990s, Cathay Pacific and its parent company, Swire Pacific, acquired significant stakes in Dragonair and Air Hong Kong. In 1994, the airline launched a program to upgrade passenger experience and its brand image. Two years later, several Chinese companies increased their share in Cathay Pacific. In 1997, the airline updated registration numbers and flags coinciding with the handover of Hong Kong. On May 21, 1998, the airline took the first delivery of the Boeing 777-300. On July 6, 1998, Cathay Pacific left Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport after 73 years of operation. On September 21, 1998, Cathay Pacific joined hands with American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, and Qantas to create Oneworld. The airline suffered from the Asian financial crisis towards the end of the decade but managed to bounce back.
In the new Millenium, Cathay Pacific’s employees disrupted flight schedules for better working conditions and more pay. The airline reviewed the employment histories of all of its pilots and subsequently fired 49 of them. Cathay Pacific eventually lost the subsequent court battles. On September 28, 2006, Dragonair became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific and was downsized. Chinese companies raised their stakes around this time. In 2008, Cathay Pacific was fined US$60 million after breaching US competition law, even though their acts were legal under Hong Kong laws. The airline was hit by the Financial Crisis of 2008, among other things, and reported losses until 2010.
In 2010, Cathay Pacific posted record profits and expanded its network towards smaller hubs in Europe and the US in 2014. In January 2016, Cathay Pacific announced that it was rebranding Dragonair as Cathay Dragon. On October 8, 2016, Cathay Pacific retired their last passenger 747. In 2018, the airline discovered a data breach, with millions of passengers’ data compromised. After two consecutive years of losses, Cathay Pacific restructured its organization to make quicker decisions and better suit the needs of its passengers. The airline posted HK$2.3 billion for the 2018 financial year, signaling signs of success. In July 2019, Cathay Pacific acquired HK Express, the only LCC in Hong Kong.
During the ongoing 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests, several employees participated in the protests. The PRC government ordered Cathay to suspend any employees that participated in the protests. Following pressure from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, CEO Rupert Hogg and chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo resigned. Chairman John Slosar also resigned weeks later. By late September, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon terminated or forced the resignation of 31 professionals for participating in protests or expressing support.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiaries were negatively affected by the ongoing pandemic. The airline received aid from the Hong Kong government, which gave the government a 6% stake in the airline. The HKSAR government got the right to appoint two observers on Cathay’s board. Although non-residents can transit through Hong Kong International Airport (more revenue for Cathay), the situation remains fluid.
The brushwing logo is relatively new, as it was created in 1994 during its rebranding program. It was created by Landor Associates, a brand consulting firm based in San Francisco. The logo is a Chinese calligraphic stroke intended to look like a bird, which has a wing that tapers off like the end of a brushstroke.
The first brushwing livery was introduced in 1994 ahead of the launch of the Airbus A340 service. The livery consisted of the brushwing logo on a green/white/red background on the vertical stabilizer, a light blue stripe down the fuselage and engine cowlings, a green stripe in front of the first set of doors and under the cockpit windows, a smaller brushwing logo within the green stripe, and the words “CATHAY PACIFIC” under the windows between doors 1 and 2. If you look closely, “C” and “P” are larger than the rest other characters. All aircraft had the Oneworld logo next to the L1 and L2 doors, the Brand Hong Kong logo behind the first set of doors, and the Swire Group logo under the windows before the last door. On the winglets, there is a green and light blue stripe.
Cathay Pacific A340-600
In 2015, the livery and logo received a major facelift ahead of the introduction of the Airbus A350. The box that previously enclosed the brushwing on the logo was removed. The “C” and “P” became the same size as the other characters. The new livery consisted of the brushwing on an all-green tail. Noticeably missing was the red stripe, as well as the aforementioned green stripe. The brushwing near the cockpit windows was changed from white to green. Although the Oneworld logo was kept, the Brand Hong Kong logo was also removed. The Swire Group logo and the Cathay Pacific logo were moved above the windows. Winglets are painted green and has the brushwing logo.
Cathay’s logos are used on Cathay Dragon’s aircraft as well. There are even talks of Cathay Express (a purple Cathay plane !?). However, we’ll leave Cathay Dragon’s livery for next time, since this is getting endless.
TL;DR service for everyone:
Cathay Pacific’s logo is a brushstroke that’s supposed to look like a bird, and it’s pretty iconic. It was introduced in 1994 and only got updated 21 years later.
Longer than last time :) Sorry if I made you wait. Thanks for reading!
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