Date
24 May 2017
The proposed changes in Cathay Pacific's frequent flyer program will benefit business class passengers but will be disadvantageous to those flying economy. Photo: Bloomberg
The proposed changes in Cathay Pacific's frequent flyer program will benefit business class passengers but will be disadvantageous to those flying economy. Photo: Bloomberg

Cathay plans to cut benefits for frequent flyer members

Cathay Pacific Airways plans to cut some of the benefits offered to members of its frequent flyer program, despite criticism that the quality of its service has been worsening in recent years.

As soon as by the end of this year, the Hong Kong carrier will change the way it calculates the mileage accumulated by members of its Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles from actual flying distance, which is the current method, to one based on airfare, Apple Daily reported on Tuesday.

Such a change is considered disadvantageous to economy class passengers, who make up most of Asia Miles’ seven million members.

Currently, business class passengers earn 25-50 percent more mileage than those in the economy class on the same flight.

If the mileage calculation is based on airfare, the gap will widen further because business-class airfare is normally at least double that of the economy class.

While the planned change has been criticized as “robbing the poor to help the rich”, Cathay Pacific chief executive Ivan Chu Kwok-leung explained on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting that it is aimed at making the company’s frequent flyer program consistent with international practice.

Without saying how exactly the adjustments will be made, Chu sought to assure customers that the airline’s products will stay competitive.

Meanwhile, the airline also plans to limit access to its VIP lounges by Marco Polo Club silver card holders, who currently enjoy unlimited use, while those holding gold and diamond cards will be unaffected.

Chu said the planned change was in response to complaints from some members who said the VIP lounges are often too crowded.

As for green card holders who account for the largest portion of its members, Cathay is expected to cancel their current benefits of priority check-in and priority boarding.

Cost control is a must for all airlines amid the tough business environment, Chu said.

Cathay, which fell from the top to the third place in this year’s World’s Best Airline rankings, will continue to enhance its services while seeking to reduce costs, he added.

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TL/AC/CG

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