Cathay Pacific Celebrates 20 Years in New York

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 in New York
Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific marks a significant milestone this month, celebrating 20 years of nonstop flight services between New York City and Hong Kong.

On July 1, 2004, flights CX830 and CX831, operated by an Airbus A340-600, launched the airline’s twice-daily route connecting these global hubs.

For two decades, Cathay Pacific has offered premium service and enhanced connectivity between these world-class cities.

Flight CX889 ‘Polar One’ – July 1998

The journey began even earlier, with a historic one-off flight on July 5, 1998. This pioneering “Polar One” flight, CX889, coincided with the opening of Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.

Captained by Paul Horsting, Mike Lowes, Steve Monaghan, and First Officer Kelvin Ma, it became the world’s first commercial nonstop flight from New York to Hong Kong over the North Pole.

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 in New York
Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific

The Boeing 747-400 traversed American, Canadian, Russian, and Mongolian airspace, setting a record for the longest nonstop commercial service at the time.

The regular nonstop service, inaugurated in 2004, initially offered twice-daily flights in both directions.

It was the first and only nonstop link between these financial powerhouses, with eastbound flights lasting 14.6 hours and westbound flights taking 16.5 hours.

A Cathay Cargo 747 taxis at New York JFK.
Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Chapter in Cathay History

Chris van den Hooven, Cathay Senior Vice President, Americas, reflected on the achievement. “Flight CX889 was a landmark in aviation and Cathay Pacific history,” he said.

It paved the way for our nonstop New York-Hong Kong route in 2004. Today, we proudly offer three daily nonstop flights from JFK to Hong Kong. It provides one of the most crucial international routes alongside our premier service.”

Michael Lim, Hong Kong Tourism Board Director of the Americas, added further comment. “We congratulate Cathay Pacific on 20 years of nonstop New York-Hong Kong service.”

“As our valued partner, they’ve been key in connecting North American travelers to Hong Kong. It showcases exciting experiences while ensuring comfortable journeys. We look forward to welcoming more visitors and highlighting Hong Kong’s best.”

A Cathay Pacific 777 taxis in New York.
Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Operations New York-Hong Kong

Currently, Cathay Pacific operates three daily return flights between New York and Hong Kong. First-class service resumed on March 31, 2024, using the Boeing 777-300ER, one of the airline’s signature long-haul aircraft.

Looking ahead, Cathay Pacific will be among the first airlines to operate from New York JFK‘s new Terminal 6 in 2026.

The airline plans to open a spacious 10,000-square-foot lounge there. This will become its second dedicated lounge in the U.S. after San Francisco International Airport.

Recent accolades underscore Cathay Pacific’s commitment to excellence. In the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2024, passengers voted it the 5th best airline globally. The airline also took out the World’s Best Economy Class Airline and World’s Cleanest Airline awards.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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