International carrier Cathay Pacific is growing fast in India and sees strong demand in the aviation market in the country despite world aviation being at its low point, a top airline official said here Saturday.
Tom Wright, Cathay Pacific country manager, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, said the airlines was ahead of its competitors in India. He was talking to reporters while announcing the launch of direct flight between Hyderabad and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific became the first airline to connect the two cities. It will operate four flights a week.
The first flight from Hong Kong will be given the traditional water canon salute on arrival at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here Dec 2.
The Airbus A330-300 aircraft will have both business and economy class configuration.
"The potential in this market is tremendous. The influx of IT and pharmaceutical companies into the city has made Hyderabad one of the fastest growing markets. We already see strong corporate and student traffic and believe there is real potential for leisure traffic," said Wright.
Hyderabad became sixth city in India to be served by Cathay Pacific and its sister airline Dragonair. Cathay Pacific operates to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai while Dragonair has daily flight to Bangalore and the recently launched four-time weekly service to Kolkatta
With the launch of this flight, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair together operate 46 flights a week between India and Hong Kong
"This addition reinforces our commitment to the Indian market and I believe in its potential for long term growth," Wright added.
"From our perspective this has been a strong year. We added two destinations and increased frequencies to Chennai. We are growing fast. Even though the world economy is slowing down and India's GDP too falling down to 5.3 percent, we still see a strong demand."
Wright said the flight from Hyderabad not only connects the city to Hong Kong but also to mainland China, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other destinations in North America, North Asia, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Describing Hong Kong as best gateway to the rest of the world, he pointed out that Cathay Pacific has a huge network of 170 destinations in 42 countries.
GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) CEO, Vikram Jaisinghani said the launch of the flight was a momentous occasion and would meet the long felt need of travelers from Hyderabad.
The addition of Hong Kong will be the fourth destination in Far East Asia after Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
He promised best service to the Cathay Pacific, which started cargo operations on Hyderabad-Hong Kong route in May this year.
Sunil Puri, a representative of Hong Kong Tourism Board, said the flight would bring Hong Kong closer to Hyderabad. The travellers from the city earlier had to spend five hours flying to Delhi and other cities to catch a flight to Hong Kong.
Puri said as 'Asia's world city', a shopping hub for all sections of people and tourism centre, Hong Kong is an attractive destination for Indians.
"The fantastic thing is that Hong Kong is a visa free country. You don't require visa to go to Hong Kong. All your require is a passport," he said.