Approach and strategy

For seven decades, Cathay Pacific’s approach to valuing customers via safety procedures, inflight services and sustainable practices has enabled passengers to travel well. We are committed to delivering to our customers premium services and products for years to come. This means that by using resources responsibly, increasing efficiency, and purposefully reducing the waste we produce –amongst other things – we are able to foster meaningful collaborations and be single-minded in fulfilling our commitments.

As part of the Swire Group, a statement released in 1989 by Honorary Life President and Former Chairman Sir Adrian Swire continues to inspire positive purpose in the company:

As a group, we should always seek to be ahead of legislation rather than reacting to it. If the environmentally ‘clean’ way of doing something is more expensive and therefore on the face of it uneconomic, we should always, regardless of mandatory legislation, still have a close look at the overall feasibility of adopting such a practice, considering both general public good and enlightened self-interest.

Sir Adrian Swire

Honorary life president and former Chairman

This approach defines what sustainable development means to us – it is about applying long-term thinking in the business and doing the right thing by the environment and our stakeholders, which results in continuing success and sustained existence.

Sustainable development targets

The Cathay Pacific Sustainable Development Strategy is designed to embed sustainability into the mainstream thinking of the company. Although goals and commitments are set across different business functions, and in turn address different stakeholder priorities, they all promote Cathay Pacific’s sustainable development targets, which cut across the group’s activities. As a result, the aim is to:

  • Reduce our overall emissions;
  • Offer sustainably sourced products and services to our customers;
  • Ensure our community programmes are relevant and effective to the beneficiaries.

These three targets are looked into further below.

a) Reduce our overall emissions

Aviation currently accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. As aviation grows to meet increasing demand, the IPCC has forecast that by 2050, the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions could rise to 3%.

Within Cathay Pacific, aircraft emissions constitute 99% of our overall CO2 emissions. Therefore, we are committed to managing our carbon emissions and contributing to global efforts to reduce the aviation industry’s impact on the environment and climate change. We have therefore committed to improving our fuel efficiency by 2% year-on-year up until 2020, exceeding the IATA target of 1.5%, in line with ICAO’s target for the industry. Simultaneously, we are actively managing the impact of energy and water use from our facilities, vehicle fleet and the equipment used across our subsidiaries.

To learn more about our performance on this target, refer to our Climate Change section.

b) Offer sustainably sourced products and minimise resource use

We continually examine options on how we can reduce resource use throughout our supply chain, and instead opt to use materials from sustainable sources (such as products certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and Marine Stewardship Council, or recycled materials). We ensure our procurement team understands the requirements of our Supply Chain Sustainability Code of Conduct so they can, in turn, ensure our suppliers comply with our standards. We make a conscious effort to look for opportunities that allow us to improve recycling and waste management across different facets of our operations. These include products and services provided both inflight and at airport lounges, in back office operations and the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) process of our aircraft.

To learn more about our performance on this target, refer to our Waste Management, Sustainable Sourcing and Biodiversity sections.

c) Ensure the effectiveness and relevance of community programmes

We support and invest into Hong Kong’s community, of which we have been a part for seven decades. Local staff members are also active in community initiatives in the outport countries where we have a presence.

Our global community investment strategy is to leverage the resources of our company and to motivate our staff and passengers to address the needs of the communities in which we serve. Our main priority is to focus on the two areas of youth and education, and environmental conservation.

Apart from our work in Hong Kong, we strongly encourage our outport staff to get involved in their local communities and to proactively identify appropriate NGO partners with a view to exploring cooperation opportunities that will benefit the local community.

20/20 Sustainability commitments

In 2012, we launched our vision for how our strategy will be implemented through 20 commitments by defining what we intend to do and achieve by 2020. These commitments encompass the key operational areas of our business right across our flights, catering services, ground fleet, offices, suppliers and the communities we fly to. This is the result of years of engagement with our key stakeholders including our employees, passengers, investors, company management, community neighbours, subject experts and academics.

Please find here for the full content of CX commitments.

CX Commitments

Commitments by 2020 Section of the report to which this issue relates to

2% year-on-year improvement in fuel efficiency

Climate change

Develop a cost-effective strategy to incorporate sustainable aviation fuel into our operations

Embed climate change adaptation into overall risk management

Reduce electricity use by 25%

Ground vehicles to use alternative fuels/power source

All Cathay Pacific Group-owned buildings, offices and lounges will consider green building standards or principles

Offer carbon offsetting as part of all ticket-related marketing and promotional activities

Develop and implement a sustainable cargo policy


All meals served inflight and on the ground will meet sustainability criteria

Reduce the environmental impact of maintenance, repair and overhauls (MRO) carried out in Hong Kong by 50%

Waste management

Reduce material usage and waste by 25%

Increase recycling by 25%

All Cathay Pacific Group-branded materials will be produced using sustainable materials

Sustainable sourcing

All paper, paper products and textiles offered to customers or as part of the service offering will be made of sustainable materials

Engage with suppliers of inflight sales products on sustainability principles

All suppliers will comply with our Supply Chain Code of Conduct

All meals served inflight and on the ground will meet sustainability criteria

Sustainable sourcing

CX Holidays to offer at least five ecotourism packages

Sustainable sourcing

All holiday packages offered by CX Holidays will be verified for their sustainability impacts

Sustainable sourcing

Implement London Benchmarking Group (LBG) methodology to evaluate major company community projects

Sustainable development strategy

Implement CX community investment guidelines by 2015


On Plan

Off Plan

Since the launch of our Sustainable Development strategy and commitments, we have made progress in some areas, and not so much in others. There have also been changes in the external environment, policies, societal expectations, as well as new developments in research and technology. It is therefore necessary to review and update our commitments, which will be reported on next year.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly accepted a new set of 17 measurable goals to be achieved by 2030. These goals aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure global prosperity as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Whilst not all 17 goals are applicable to aviation or our operations, the relevant SDGs will be regarded as guiding principles in shaping our SD strategy. The table below indicates where different sections of this report currently support the relevant SDGs.

Descriptions Section of the report to which this issue relates to
3 – Good Health and Well-Being Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages People
4 – Quality Education Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all People
7 – Affordable and Clean Energy Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Climate change
8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all People
9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation Climate change
12 – Responsible Consumption and Production Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns Sustainable sourcing
13 – Climate Action Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts Climate change
14 – Life Below Water Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development Biodiversity
15 – Life on Land Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss Biodiversity
Sustainable sourcing
17 – Partnerships for the Goals Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development Climate change

Selected awards for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon 2016

Weekend Weekly 15th Best Travel Agency Awards
The Most Favourite Airlines Award
Jet Airliner Crash Data
Evaluation Centre (JACDEC) Airline Safety Ranking 2016
The world’s new leading airline in terms of its safety record
Jessica OL Favorite Brand Award 2016
Best Airline
Skytrax World Airline Awards

  • World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge
  • World’s Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness
27th Annual TTG Travel Awards
Best North Asian Airline
U Magazine Travel Awards 2016

  • My favourite service team in the skies
  • My favourite inflight entertainment
  • My favourite social media – airline
2016 Business Traveller China Awards
Best Frequent Flyer Programme
IR Magazine Awards & Conference Greater China 2016
Certificate for Excellence in Investor Relations

Customer Service Excellence Awards 2015 by the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence (HKACE)

  • Team Award (Internal Support Service) – Gold
  • Individual Award (Field & Special Service) – Gold
Inflight Sales Person of the Year (ISPY) Awards 2016

  • Overall Inflight Sales Person of the Year Award – Bronze Medallist
  • Sales as a Service PA Team Award – Gold Medallists
  • Emotionally Intelligent Team Award – Silver Medallists
2016 Business Traveller China Awards
Best Airline Economy Class