How long have you been working in the aviation industry? What attracted you to the industry in the first place?
I have worked in the aviation industry for more than eight years. Ever since my first long haul flight to the US, I have been fascinated by the experience of learning another culture, meeting new people and travelling to places I have never been to. I think no other job can fulfil these desires better than working for an airline.
When did you take over as country manager of Vietnam for Cathay Pacific? What fascinates you about working in this country?
I took over in the second half of 2017. So far, I love living and working here because of the superbly friendly people and helpful co-workers. I think Vietnam is full of energy and opportunities, and I sense the Vietnamese have a fervent desire to learn and become better. It’s a great experience working alongside people like this.
With the industry experiencing exponential growth in the region, is now the right time to be part of it?
Vietnam has the fastest growing aviation sector in the region. With a population that is just starting to ‘spread its wings’, and explore new destinations, either to regional capitals like my hometown of Hong Kong or further afield to destinations such as the US or Europe, it’s a tremendous time to be a part of this dynamic industry in this dynamic market.
The potential we see in this market has underpinned a continual expansion in the number of flights we offer to Vietnam. In the past three months, we have added an additional Saigon flight — taking the weekly total to 19; two additional Hanoi flights, bringing it to up to 12 per week; and an additional freight service into Hanoi. We only make these decisions when we see the potential for growth.
With growth comes competition, and in Vietnam it is intense. How is Cathay dealing with the competition both locally and internationally?
We take pride in being one of the leading airlines in the world. We have one multiple awards and are very confident in our product. There is indeed intense competition in the Asian aviation market. However, Cathay Pacific together with Cathay Dragon, which are committed to the Vietnamese market, connect passengers to nearly 200 destinations worldwide via the Hong Kong aviation hub, using technologically-advanced aircraft and offering premium products and services.
We see a few key competitive advantages for Cathay Pacific to capture Vietnamese travel growth that other airlines struggle to match. We have an impeccable safety record — so first and foremost this should be addressed. But aside from that, Skytrax always places us as one of the world’s top five airlines.
Our passengers can expect everything from our meticulous maintenance and equipment checks by our engineers and flight crew to the delivery of Service Straight from the Heart by our ground and cabin staff.
To that end, we continue to offer new destinations and connections for Vietnamese tourists and business travellers; most recently this has seen us add Copenhagen, Brussels and Dublin to our map, as well as making Barcelona a scheduled destination.
By communicating these messages actively to Vietnam, we are offering a product mix that is unrivalled in its service, value and destinations.
What challenges are you facing in your current role?
The biggest challenge for me has been understanding Vietnam-specific situations. My teams have helped me a lot with this.
Cathay Pacific has a great name both regionally and internationally. How proud are you to be part of this airline?
Exceptionally proud. It is not just the home carrier of Hong Kong, my homeland, but also a leading brand. We have a superb reputation around the world and an exceptional reputation here in Vietnam. I am thrilled by the prospects of all that we can achieve here.
What are your plans for the future — both personally and for Cathay Pacific in Vietnam?
My plan is to continue to grow our services from Vietnam to help connect more Vietnamese people and goods with the rest of the world, and help them to share in our Life Well Travelled vision. We will also need to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing world and win customers’ loyalty with excellent service and operations.
Personally, my plan is to learn Vietnamese as it will allow me to more thoroughly understand the people and culture. I would also love to visit the beautiful countryside of Vietnam as much as I can!
PHOTO BY BAO ZOAN