Cathay Pacific Extends Maldives Service Through October 25, 2014

Back in October, Cathay Pacific launched 4x weekly service to the Maldives. This was no doubt an exciting development, not just because it’s a route that wasn’t previously served, but in particular because OneWorld was lacking decent options to the Maldives.

Cathay-Pacific-Maldives

What was puzzling is that up until last week they only loaded the route through March 31, 2014. Based on what I’ve heard the route is struggling, with low load factors in both economy and business class, though that’s to be expected on a new route. It takes some time before you get a “return on investment” on a new leisure route. This obviously led to the question as to whether they were planning on discontinuing the service as of March, because it really doesn’t make sense to only load availability four months out, especially since the Maldives is a destination that a lot of people plan trips to nearly a year out.

It’s worth noting that Cathay Pacific has finally updated their schedule, and availability has now been loaded through October 25, 2014. The flight will continue to be operated by an Airbus A330-300, with fully flat reverse herringbone seats in business class.

Cathay-Pacific-Business-Class
Cathay Pacific A330 business class

Award availability on the route continues to be fairly good, with Cathay Pacific releasing two award seats in economy class and two award seats in business class on most flights.

Cathay-Pacific-Maldives-Availability-1 Cathay-Pacific-Maldives-Availability-2
Award availability on route

For those looking to redeem miles on the flight, just a quick reminder about the best ways to go about that, as I covered in the last post.

If booking through British Airways Avios, it’s worth noting that Hong Kong to Male is just under 3,000 miles one-way, meaning a one-way business class award ticket would cost 25,000 Avios, while a one-way economy class award ticket would cost 12,500 Avios, in addition to the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

Avios_Business_Class
One-way business class cost in Avios

Avios_Economy_Class
One-way economy class cost in Avios

Meanwhile if you’re using American miles, the Maldives is considered to be “Indian Subcontinent/Middle East” region, and American does have some silly restrictions regarding their routing rules whereby you can’t transit a third region when enroute between two regions with limited exceptions, as discussed in this post.

So if you were to ordinarily travel directly between North America and the Middle East you’d pay 67,500 miles one-way in business class or 90,000 miles one-way in first class.

American_AAdvantage_Award_Chart

However, if you instead went via Asia on Cathay Pacific you’d have to book it as two awards. The first award from North American to Asia would cost you 55,000 miles in business class or 67,500 miles in first class. Then the ticket from Asia to the Maldives would run you 30,000 miles in business class (there’s no first class). So you’d end up paying a total of 85,000 miles for a one-way in business class or 97,500 miles for a one-way in first class to Asia with a connection in business class, which isn’t a huge premium over the 90,000 miles you’d pay “direct” in first class. I’d say the ideal situation is probably to book an award using American AAdvantage miles as far as Hong Kong, and then an award using British Airways Avios between Hong Kong and the Maldives.

This might also be a case where booking a distance based OneWorld Explorer award is worth considering.

Anyway, happy to see this route extended!

Comments

  1. So if I did the math right it would save 10k miles using AA/BA vs AA (185k vs 195k) all the way but how much cheaper are all the surcharges with the AA only route? Though I guess I could build in a stopover in Hong Kong using the BA/AA option?

  2. @ Nic — Your math is exactly right. The one way fuel surcharges between Hong Kong and Male are $120 for business class, so that’s how much more you’d pay in cash booking through British Airways rather than American.

  3. Well, this is one of those times I REALLY wish you could make changes to a One World Explorer award…I currently have JFK-LHR//LGA-MLE-CMB-HKG(via SIN)-JFK booked in J for June but would KILL to just do MLE-HKG-JFK…ugh…but no availability on any of the other legs to make it work now…and not with risking cancelling and praying both seats go back into inventory!

  4. @ Nic — Correct, though keep in mind that doesn’t account for the difference in valuation between British Airways Avios and American AAdvantage miles. American miles are generally considered to be quite a bit more valuable.

  5. Lucky,

    In theory, would it not be possible to use AA miles to fly BA t to LGW and then connect on the 3x weekly non-stop LGW-MLE? I realize that there is very little availability but that should still run the normal mileage amount right?

    As an alternative, why not use AA to book CX to CMB for 67,500 and then avios for the BA CMB-MLE for only 9,000 in business (76,500 total).

    The BA flight gets in with enough time for properties requiring a seaplane transfer. Otherwise if you land past 1600, you’re stuck in MLE for the night at overpriced hotels and nothing to do. The CX/BA option would require a night in CMB for the connection but there is LOTS to do in Colombo.

  6. “Based on what I’ve heard the route is struggling”
    Most tourist destinations (Ministry of tourism) around the world pay airlines a significant sum of money to have a daily or weekly service.

  7. @lucky we booked a trip from USA to Sri Lanka on Cathay for 67.5k per person and then bought a RT ticket to the Maldives for $200 per person. Seemed to be the best and cheapest option.

  8. @ Anthony — Correct, you could do British Airways through London, but the fuel surcharges on such an itinerary are obscene.

    Otherwise agree that going via CMB is an economical alternative, but I think the beauty of the Cathay Pacific service is that it provides an economical option (at least compared to BA) for those looking to get to the Maldives in one stop in comfort.

  9. The drawback with CMB on CX is that it’s three stops to get to MLE. HKG-CMB is a choice between a stop in SIN or BKK.

    I would have went LAX-HKG-MLE on CX if the 4x was a better fit for my flights, but it would have meant a longer layover in HKG (and less time in MLE).

    One option that will disappear real soon is the 30k RT business class on SQ from SIN-MLE using USAir miles. I took out the Priority Club credit card just to get two nights (one in each direction) at the Crowne Plaza Changi. I love Singapore, so the overnight stays sounds nice to me. Some chili crab, a vist to the botanic gardens etc.

  10. @ Nic — Hong Kong to Male is operated by an A330 with fully flat business class, like the one I wrote about in this post:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2012/11/21/chasing-the-sun-cathay-pacific-business-class-bangkok-to-hong-kong/

    Meanwhile Hong Kong to Colombo is operated by a 777 with regional business class, like the one I wrote about in this post:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2013/02/04/a380-extravaganza-cathay-pacific-business-class-singapore-to-colombo/

  11. I wanted to take advantage of the great Maldives Business I class fare but I need to book the return date in December 2014. It doesn’t show any fares yet but what would happen if I say book the return to MLE for the 25th of October an once they release the schedule until December ask them to change the date? Would they reprice the itinerary (which will most likely be higher) or would they just change the date as long as I class is available and I think charge the change fee of US$35? All this, of course, assumes that they still continue their schedule after October which would be my risk.

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