Dragonair will launch a new service to Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong and the biggest city in the fast-growing Pearl River Delta region, on September 14.
The twice-daily service, to be operated by A320 and A321 aircraft, will have bellyhold cargo capacity for express and courier services.
CargoNews Asia suggests the flights will also improve connectivity via Hong Kong to the rest of the world. True. But who and what is DragonAir? Now it is a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific but not after a considerable period of open warfare between the two airlines.
DragonAir was established in May 1985 on the initiative of KP Chao, the airline’s present honorary chairman, and started operations in July 1985 with a service from the then Hong Kong airport, Kai Tak (so named because it was built by a company whose two partners were Kai and Tak and there was a sign to that effect outside the airport of some years.) The first flight was to Kota Kinabalu.
In the beginning the name was Hong Kong Dragon Airlines. In 1986, the airline officially changed its name to Dragonair and was granted licences to operate to eight cities in China plus a regular service to the popular Thai resort of Phuket.
Cathay Pacific Airways, which believed it had been endowed with the Divine Right of Kings, fought the very existence of DragonAir tooth and nail and sued and sued.
After heated hearings before Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority, the government adopted a one route-one airline policy that lasted until 2001. Dragonair was disadvantaged in that Sir John Bembridge, Hong Kong’s financial secretary at the time, was also a former chairman of Cathay Pacific.
The way it was settled was that in January 1990, Cathay Pacific acquired a 35% holding from the Chao family, while CITIC acquired a 38% share. The Chao family retained a 22% stake with the remainder held by minor shareholders. It is at this time that Cathay Pacific transferred its routes to Beijing and Shanghai to Dragonair.
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