Milan Welcomes Cathay Return, Confirms Sky Express Launch

Credit: Milan Malpensa

Cathay Pacific has resumed service to Milan Malpensa (MXP) after a hiatus of more than two and a half years, restoring a nonstop connection between Hong Kong and Italy. Flights will initially be once a week using a 334-seat Airbus A350-1000 aircraft in a three-class configuration.

The airline hopes to gradually increase frequencies in line with the easing of travel restrictions in Hong Kong. It served Milan Malpensa daily prior to the pandemic, as well as operating a daily Rome Fiumicino (FCO) service during the summer that dropped to 4X-weekly in winter.

The restart of flights to Italy comes after Hong Kong ended mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals in late September—a major step toward reopening to the world. However, visitors will still have to self-monitor for three days on entry and take regular COVID-19 tests.

Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said the lifting of mandatory hotel quarantine rules has “given further impetus to the recovery process” that will “make Hong Kong increasingly connected and accessible to business and leisure travelers.”

Andrea Tucci, VP of aviation business development at SEA Group, which operates Malpensa, added that the oneworld alliance member’s decision to restart connections to Milan is a further boost for the airport’s connectivity to Asia. It comes ahead of EVA Air launching a long-awaited route to MXP from Taipei Taiwan (TPE), set to start on Oct. 25.

Tucci said: “Currently the traffic recovery at our airport is 97% of pre-COVID thanks to the contribution of 75 airlines on a network of 190 destinations. In particular, the overall recovery on long-haul expected for winter is 88%, further confirming the importance of our infrastructure for the air transport industry.”

OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that Cathay Pacific is now operating seven routes to destinations in Europe following the resumption of Milan. The airline’s Hong Kong-Europe capacity currently stands at 13,464 two-way weekly seats, compared with 70,040 at this time in 2019.

Meanwhile, Milan Malpensa has confirmed that Greek carrier Sky Express will open a new route from Athens (ATH) on Oct. 26. Flights will be 5X-weekly using A320neos.

In addition, SKY express said its existing Athens-Rome Fiumicino route would increase to daily frequencies, up from the five flights per week currently offered.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.