Cathay Pacific's e-biz plan takes off

Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is moving closer to its $650 million goal of becoming an e-business airline.

Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is moving closer to its $650 million goal of becoming an e-business airline.

Successful trials have just been completed allowing passengers to send emails from planes and use other internet services.

The project is one of 30 planned or underway for the next three years, which includes an upgraded website, new cargo website, and e-marketplace, all of which were launched last month.

The email trial was on a Boeing 747 between Seoul and Hong Kong, but the service should be on New Zealand flights, including economy, anytime from next April.

New in-seat data and power systems are being installed from US-based Tenzing Communications and Primex Technologies. The airline says the new high speed 1.5Mbit/s Primex EMPORT data systems operates the in-flight system at 30 times the speed of existing 56Kbit/s use their notebook computers using a standard USB connection. Cathay will also install Primex EMPOWER in-seat power systems to let passengers plug in and recharge their computers.

The relaunched www.cathaypacific.com has new features, including an online booking engine, real-time flight information and flight paging. The notiFLY service offers emails or SMS messages to be sent to passengers one to four hours before departure if flights are diverted, cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes.

The cargo website www.cathaypacificcargo.com allows freight customers to track and trace their shipments, using information direct from the airline's cargo operating system. Similar Interline shipment tracking is available for users of partner airlines. Soon online booking will be available along with short message services offering the same information.

In procurement, Cathay Pacific has joined Air New Zealand, Qantas and 10 other airlines in the B2B Aeroexchange purchasing portal for buying business supplies. Other procurement projects include asia2B and MartPower, allowing the airline to use the internet for 35-50% of purchases within three years.

Intranet services have been launched to link its 13,000 staff worldwide and the airline is working with other Asian airlines to offer online travel agency services.

The airline says its e-Business programme, headed by a dedicated e-Business Programme Office, should lead to 15-30% of ticket sales over the net by 2005 and bring annual savings of almost $NZ200 million by 2003.

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