Cathay Pacific has been having a tough time lately. As if reduced visitor numbers to Hong Kong weren’t harming the bottom line enough over the last few months, owing to political instability in the Special Administrative Region, the airline now has the coronavirus (officially COVID-19) to contend with.
Passenger numbers have plummeted, several routes have been suspended and hundreds of flights per week have been cut in the wake of the crisis.
Three lounges will temporarily close
As a result of the reduced passenger numbers, earlier this week the airline announced that three of its six lounges at Hong Kong International Airport will temporarily close from Monday 17th February, until further notice.
The closed facilities will be:
- The Pier First Class (capacity: 231)
- The Bridge Business Class (capacity: 364)
- The Deck Business Class (capacity: 186)
All is not lost
Three of Cathay’s lounges will stay open, to serve the remaining flights the airline will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.
These lounges are:
- The Wing First Class (capacity: 167)
- The Wing Business Class (capacity: 519)
- The Pier Business Class (capacity: 550)
As you can see it’s the smaller two Business Class lounges that will close, though the larger First Class lounge won’t be available.
Over half of all Cathay Pacific flights have been cancelled
Though in its official statement regarding the lounge closures Cathay Pacific states a “30% short-term capacity reduction across the network”, the airline is using Available Seat Kilometres (ASKs) to measure its capacity change.
In fact Cathay is cutting over half its flights in February and March (reductions of 52% and 57% respectively), according to analysis by the South China Morning Post.
Since the bulk of the flight cancellations are on shorter routes, specifying the reduction as a percentage of ASKs sounds better, though in fairness to Cathay Pacific ASKs is the industry-accepted measure of an airline’s capacity.
It is not a true reflection, however, of demand on ground services like lounges, where footfall is already less than half previous levels (since actual flight volumes have halved). It therefore makes sense to close three out of the six lounges Cathay currently operates in Hong Kong.
News of The Pier First Class temporarily closing is a big disappointment. Personally it’s my favourite First Class lounge in the world, with its New York apartment-style decor and furnishings, à la carte restaurant, intimate cocktail bar, day beds and spa facilities.
All is not lost though, Eddie’s top First Class lounge is still The Wing, boasting the excellent Cabanas, and it will continue to welcome oneworld Emeralds and those flying oneworld and Cathay First Class during the closures.
Passengers with access to the First Class lounge will want to be using The Wing, the only remaining dedicated First Class facility, but may now face a long walk when travelling on flights departing from gates in the 40+ range.
There is an automated people mover to help, but The Pier First Class lounge used to be an ideal ‘second stop’ before boarding for flights like this.
If you are entitled to access the Business Class lounges, we’d recommend The Wing if your flight is departing from gates 1 to 30, and The Pier for gates 31 and above.
Qantas is still open
You will still be able to use the Qantas Hong Kong lounge, whether travelling Business or First Class on Cathay Pacific or another oneworld airline. The alliance’s Sapphire and Emerald status holders are also welcome there, when departing on a oneworld flight.
It is located near The Deck, on level 7 above gate 5.
Open from 7.30am to midnight each day, this lounge is quiet outside the regular Qantas departures (6pm to 10pm), and British Airways departures (11.30pm). Note that BA directs its Business and First Class passengers to this facility, its contract lounge at Hong Kong.
Qantas and British Airways are also cutting their flights to Hong Kong during the COVID-19 outbreak, so this lounge could be a good alternative option if you’re departing from this end of the terminal and find The Wing Business Class lounge is getting busy.
In its announcement, Cathay Pacific also stated that there will be some alterations to the catering arrangements at its lounges in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai while the COVID-19 issue is ongoing.
“To further enhance our health and safety protocols at our lounges at HKIA, Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport, we will be modifying the buffet to individually packed food options supplemented by the provision of made-to-order hot food from the Noodle Bar.” Cathay Pacific
With more than half of all its flights from Hong Kong cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s no surprise that Cathay Pacific is trimming lounge capacity at its home base.
This will help the airline reduce costs during this turbulent period, however it will mean some longer walks from the lounge to your gate, especially for many First Class passengers, Marco Polo Club Diamond and oneworld Emerald status holders using The Wing First Class lounge before departure.
Since it’s generally the smaller facilities shutting their doors, the overall reduction in lounge capacity is less than 40%, so we expect the remaining ones to still be operating at less than usual demand despite the closures.
While it’s unlikely any lounges in Hong Kong will be busy at the moment (even with these three Cathay Pacific facilities closed), the 300-capacity Qantas Hong Kong Lounge remains open and provides a potentially quieter alternative to Cathay’s passengers, especially between 7.30am and 3pm. It also has 12 shower suites.
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)