Cathay Pacific has marked a milestone in the Americas and in its history as one of the world’s leading airlines: 40 years ago today, Cathay Pacific flight CX800, a Boeing 747-200, departed Hong Kong to touch down in Vancouver, BC, Canada for the first time.

The launch of this nonstop service between Hong Kong and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) not only represented the airline’s first entry into North America, but also it becoming the first airline in the world to connect these two cities with a nonstop service.

The service marked Cathay Pacific’s illustrious entry into what is now one of the airline’s biggest markets outside of Hong Kong, the city it has called home since its founding by American Roy C. Farrell and Australian Sydney H. de Kantzow in 1946.

The service began with two flights per week in each direction. Groundbreaking at the time, this flight enabled travellers a nonstop option for the first time, which reduced the total journey by more than two hours versus the previously established route via Japan.

March 16, 1983

Cathay Pacific opened its first ticket office on March 16, 1983, at 1018 West Georgia Street, in the heart of Vancouver’s “airline row”, employing 26 in sales, marketing and reservations. Today, the airline employs close to 300 employees throughout Canada, Mexico and the US, spanning cargo, engineering, finance, sales, marketing, airport, revenue management, and human resources.

In 1986, Cathay Pacific added a San Francisco (SFO) tag to its Vancouver service—with flights departing SFO, stopping in YVR before continuing to Hong Kong. Further expansion continued apace over the years, with Cathay Pacific launching services to Hong Kong from Los Angeles (1990), Toronto (1994), a standalone SFO flight in 1998, New York (JFK) in 2004, Chicago O’Hare (2011), Newark (2013), Boston (2015), Washington Dulles (2018), and Seattle (2019).

Cathay Pacific’s legendary JFK-YVR-HKG flight—beloved by aviation geeks and passengers alike for the opportunity to hop between JFK-YVR on a world-class global carrier—was added in 1996, before its discontinuation in 2019.

Cathay cargo

Cathay Pacific’s cargo business in the Americas has been a resounding success that has shaped the airline into one of the world’s leading combination cargo carriers and has helped build Hong Kong into the world’s busiest air cargo hub.

With the launch of cargo services from Mexico in 2013 (Guadalajara and Mexico City), Cathay Cargo now operates in 16 cities across three North American countries, shipping an average of 160 million kilos of freight annually. Cathay Cargo carried the first-ever shipment of berries via air cargo from North America to the Chinese Mainland. The shipment of six tons of fruit from Michoacán and Jalisco onboard a Cathay Cargo Boeing 747-8F was the first in a commercial and agricultural relationship between Mexico and China.
Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter