Direct flights from Dublin to Hong Kong next year
Irish businesses hail ‘huge opportunities’ as Cathay Pacific unveils new service
A Cathay Pacific 747 passenger plane taxis upon landing at Hong Kong’s international airport. Photograph: Laurent Fievet / Getty Images
Businesses have said “huge opportunities” exist in Hong Kong as Dublin Airport announced direct flights from the Republic to the autonomous territory on China’s south coast from next year.
The new year-round service, run by Cathay Pacific, will operate four times per week from next June, and will be Dublin Airport’s first ever direct route to the Asia-Pacific region.
The airport described the service as “a major milestone” on Thursday, while Dublin Chamber chief executive Mary Rose Burke said it was “excellent” for Irish business.
“In a world of increasing uncertainty, it is vital that companies diversify markets and seek to minimise risks,” she said.
“As we await clarity on how Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will play out, it is important for companies to consider opportunities in new markets.
“Huge opportunities exist in Hong Kong for Irish firms and the country also provides a gateway into the increasingly lucrative Chinese market.
“There exists very strong synergies between Ireland and Hong Kong that would enable us to share the knowledge and skills necessary to drive two-way trade and investment links in the areas of fintech, education, technology, tourism and food and beverages.”
Very strong interest
Dublin Chamber said there was “very strong interest” from Asian firms seeking to explore business opportunities in and with Ireland.
“We’ve experienced a five-fold increase in the number of delegations from China over the past eight months,” said Ms Burke. “We’ve welcomed 10 delegations from China so far this year, versus two in the same period last year.”
Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison also cited the benefits for Irish business in his statement.
“Dublin Airport is competing for routes like this with other major European airports, so winning this new business is hugely positive news for Ireland, for foreign direct investment, for Irish exporters, and for inbound tourism,” he said.
“This historic new route brings direct flights from Ireland to Hong Kong for the first time and also offers excellent onward connections via Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong hub.”
Cathay Pacific chief executive Rupert Hogg said Dublin was a “fantastic destination” that attracts business and leisure travellers from the world over.
“We listened to our customers’ demands for more options and greater flexibility and have responded by building direct air links with this great city,” he added.
Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said the new route would help with market diversification as the State prepares for Britain to leave the EU.
“The new Cathay Pacific service will help further to open up important tourism and business opportunities for Ireland in Hong Kong and China, in Australia and New Zealand and across the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
“As an island, the importance of air and sea access cannot be overstated – they are critical to achieving growth in visitor numbers.”
Trade between the Republic and China is worth more than €8 billion per annum and almost 100 Irish firms have operations in China, employing a total of 100,000 people there.
Currently about 40,000 people per year travel between Dublin and Hong Kong, but this is expected to grow with the opening of the new direct service. An estimated 4,000 Irish people live in Hong Kong, according to the Irish Embassy in China.
The Dublin flight will arrive in Hong Kong early in the morning local time, providing a wide range of connecting options with flights to mainland China, Japan, Korea, South-East Asia and Australia on the Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon networks.
The airline will operate the service with an Airbus A350-900 aircraft in a three-class configuration. Starting June 2nd, 2018, the route will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.