Could this finally be an upturn in fortunes for the beleaguered travel industry?
After months of flight cancellations, Cathay Pacific Airways says it is planning to end the near-total grounding of its aircraft.
The company scaled back operations to just three per cent of services in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. And the move was recently extended until June 20.
However, the airline is now hoping to increase flight frequency to destinations including the UK, US, Canada and Australia if government travel restrictions permit.
The airline currently operates long-haul flights to London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Sydney just twice a week, but hopes to increase that to five times a week in the last week of June.
Asian routes including Tokyo Narita, Taipei, Beijing and Singapore will increase to a daily service from three times a week.
However, these flights will be “subject to government travel restrictions,” said Cathay in an official statement. “We will continue to monitor the developing situation and further adjustments may be made as necessary.”
Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore Airlines has said it will be maintaining a 96% reduction in flights until the end of June. Cathay’s budget carrier, HK Express is completely grounded until at least June 18.
However, AirAsia announced earlier this month that it would be resuming scheduled domestic flights in Malaysia on April 29, followed by Thailand on May 1, India on May 4, Indonesia on May 7 and the Philippines on May 16, subject to approval from authorities.
And unconfirmed reports in the Thai media this week claim Bangkok Airways is preparing to re-open Samui Airport on May 15 with two domestic flights a day between Samui and Bangkok. Samui Airport was closed on April 7 after the island of Koh Samui was locked down. Lockdown restrictions are not due to be lifted until April 30.
In the Middle East, Etihad has said it will be resuming regular flight services on May 16, with a reduced flight schedule. Etihad said it would be working with the United Arab Emirates government and global aviation authorities to restart operations and has started accepting bookings. Repatriation flights would continue until May 15.
And in Europe, budget carrier Wizz Air has become the first airline to restore international flights from London to European destinations with planes set to take off again in early May. Destinations include Tenerife, Lisbon and Budapest. Rival carrier EasyJet said although its planes are currently still grounded, it will be taking bookings from May 18.