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UPDATED: 11:36, June 12, 2004
Cathay Pacific to open non-stop New York air route from July 1
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Cathay Pacific Airways will strengthen Hong Kong's position as a global aviation hub with its launch on July 1 of daily non-stop flights to and from New York, according to a press release from Cathay Pacific on Friday.

Cathay Pacific will, from July 1, be the only airline to operate a daily non-stop service from New York to Hong Kong. And with a second one-stop service via Vancouver it will be the only airline to offer customers the choice and convenience of two flights a day.

The non-stop HK-New York journey will take 16 hours and Airbus 340-600 planes will be operational for the new air route.

Cathay Pacific made the world's first non-stop flight from New York to Hong Kong over the North Pole on July 5, 1998. Two of its pilots, Captain Mike Lowes and First Officer Kelvin Ma, who operated that flight, met with the media in New York to talk about their historic achievement.

That Cathay Pacific flight, dubbed "Polar One," created the airways that all airlines now flying over the Pole between Asia and the United States follow.

Director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen of the Cathay Pacific told community leaders in New York City Thursday (New York Time) that New York and Hong Kong are half a world apart but are both global hubs for business, transport, finance and culture.

He added that "even in today's world, where business is conducted around the world and around the clock, there is still only a handful of truly 'Great Cities': New York and Hong Kong are two of them. Hong Kong is a global hub in Asia. Half the world's population is encompassed within a five-hour radius. Hong Kong is the international gateway to the Chinese mainland -- the world's single biggest and fastest growing market," he said.

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