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Cathay Pacific‘s vibrant history began with the formation of the airline’s name. It is said that one of the airline’s founders, Roy C. Farrell, thought of the airline’s name while drinking at the Manila Hotel bar in the Philippines. “Cathay” is the ancient name of China and “Pacific,” was foreshadowing that the company would eventually cross the Pacific — an event that came into fruition in the 1970s.
Cathay Pacific was founded by Farrell and Sydney H. de Kantzow in 1946. The American (Farrell) and de Kantzow, an Australian, headquartered their company in Shanghai before moving it to Hong Kong, where the airline is now the flag carrier. On Cathay Pacific’s maiden voyage, Farrell and de Kantzow flew from Hong Kong to Manila, and later on to Shanghai. The airline began with flights between Sydney, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, Singapore and Guangzhou.
The company’s expansion was rapid, and a 45-percent share of the airline was purchased by the Butterfield and Swire trading company in 1948. Australian National Airways took a 35-percent share, leaving de Kantzow and Farrell 10 percent of the company each. Butterfield and Swire gained full responsibility for managing the airline.
The next few decades saw even more expansion, and between the years of 1962 and 1967, the airline’s business grew roughly 20 percent per year. International services began flying to Fukuoka, Nagoya and Osaka, Japan. Cathay Pacific took on its first Beoing 747 in 1979 and commenced flights to London in 1980. The ’80s also saw service to Vancouver and San Francisco. By the end of the decade, the company had gone public in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
The airline industry suffered in this decade, so Cathay Pacific stayed at the cutting edge by doing away with their green and white insignia in exchange for a new green “brushwing” logo. The new logo and the order of a younger, quieter fleet of aircraft ensured that Cathay Pacific would be chosen by travelers in this difficult time.
The company also continued to grow due to their strong cargo division. In the early 2000s, Cathay Pacific received its first Boeing 747-400BCF — a passenger aircraft that was converted into a cargo carrier in China. Cathay Pacific Cargo is the launch customer for this aircraft model and it was also the first time Boeing had conducted a major flight test program outside the United States.
Cargo services continue to be an integral part of Cathay Pacific’s existence, with nearly 30-percent of the airline’s revenue coming from the cargo division. The Cathay Pacific group now includes Air Hong Kong and Dragonair, operating flights to more than 130 destinations around the world. The airline was awarded the 2014 Airline of the Year award by Skytrax, and it continues to attract customers with reliability, superior customer service, affordable prices and a pleasant travel experience.