The flag carrier of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, celebrates 75 years of flying. 

“Over the past 75 years we have grown from a small regional airline to one that now spans the globe from Hong Kong – our energetic, ever-changing home,” read Cathay Pacific’s statement. 

The airline was founded on September 24, 1946, by two ex-Air Force pilots who served in World War II – Roy Farell and Sydney de Kantzow. Initially based in Shanghai, Cathay Pacific moved its base to Hong Kong and commenced freight operations between China and Australia with its Douglas DC-3 aircraft, nicknamed Betsy.

The first Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-3 displayed at Hong Kong Scie
The first Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-3 displayed at Hong Kong Science Museum (Mike Peel / Wikimedia Commons)

Throughout the 1960s to 1990s, Cathay Pacific experienced significant growth. The airline had a fleet of Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was later replaced by the Convair 800. By 1980, Cathay introduced its first Boeing 707, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and was operating the Boeing 747 aircraft. With a relatively diversified fleet, Cathay Pacific international network stretched from Japan, Australia to Europe and North America.

By 1973, Cathay Pacific was carrying one million passengers annually. 

 

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747
Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 in retro livery (Aero Icarus / Flickr)

In 1976, Cathay Pacific became the first Asian airline to launch a freighter service brand, Cathay Pacific Cargo. 

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In the 2000s, Cathay Pacific continued with its network and flight frequency expansion. Now, with 177 aircraft in its fleet, Cathay Pacific serves around 80 destinations in more than 30 countries across Asia, the Pacific, Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa. 

With an average aircraft age totaling 9.8 years old, the current airline’s fleet comprises 64 Boeing 777s, 43 Airbus A350s, 40 Airbus A330s, 20 Boeing 747s, nine Airbus A321s, and one A320 aircraft, according to Planespotters.net

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Cathay Pacific is still being hurt by operational and travel restrictions, meaning it cannot increase capacity as much as planned this year