Cathay Pacific in spending mode

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HONG KONG -- Despite airline industry woes, Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific is weathering the post-Sept. 11 storm by holding to its dictum that one has to spend money to earn it, airline officials said.

"There are only three airlines in the world I know of that received absolutely no government aid after the attacks: Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Air Hong Kong," said Tom Wright, senior vice president for the Americas for Cathay Pacific. "We're also among the few who did not let staff go or cut back on in-flight services."

Although Cathay did reduce frequency from North America, the line flies daily from Los Angeles, New York (Kennedy), San Francisco and Toronto and is "finding load factors are holding up," Wright said.

Investing in its product, the carrier installed flat sleeper seats in business class that allow for six feet and three inches of sleeping space at a 13-degree incline aboard its Airbus A330 long-haul aircraft.

The seats measure 20.5 inches wide and have privacy screens and adjustable head and lumbar rests.

The business cabin also features a new cocktail bar area; dressing rooms and extra storage and table space; USB data sockets; and audio and video on demand at each seat.

Business class installation has begun on Airbus A340 jets flying from San Francisco and Toronto, and the conversion of Cathay's Boeing 747-400s from Kennedy and London should be completed by early 2003.

The airline also is pitching its airport lounge concept -- based on the Pier lounge it opened at the Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport last fall -- to several North American locales, which Wright declined to name.

The Pier features private Day-Break Rooms for first class passengers; Personal Living Space cubicles; and private showers in both its first and business class areas.

The 42,000-square-foot lounge also features a juice bar, a coffee bar, two restaurants and 60 computers with Internet access.

Cathay Pacific also expanded its Notifly Flight Paging service to 40 countries worldwide, enabling mobile phone users to confirm flight arrivals, departures and changes in four languages.

For details on Cathay Pacific, log onto www.cathay-usa.com.

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