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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Exit the Dragon

  1. FADE IN.


  2. Act 1


  3. EXT - ROADS - DAY


  4. PETER is driving. We hear the car radio broadcasting: Cathay Dragon is ceasing operation from today... 5300 Hong Kong employees and a further 600 overseas employees are made redundant.


  5. PETER (V.O): Oh, that's how a major carrier might survive in pandemic times.


  6. Peter stops the car before red traffic lights.


  7. PETER: (V.O.): My last connection with Cathay Dragon was a mail from it advising my flight bookings were cancelled.


  8. Pausing.


  9. PETER: (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's a shame to erase the Dragon brand.


  10. Pausing.


  11. PETER (V.O.): But to keep corporate cost structure lean is necessary.


  12. Pausing.


  13. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): If I was the boss, would I do the same?


  14. Act 2


  15. EXT - ROADS - CONTINUOUS


  16. Traffic lights turn green.


  17. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I first flew Dragonair, I wasn't impressed at all as the aircrafts weren't new.


  18. Pausing.


  19. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): But cabin service was very good. Furthermore, its in-flight meal included a small cup of Haagen Dazs.


  20. Recalling.


  21. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I happened to meet up with its CEO. He disclosed to me that the branded ice cream was just an accidental mix-and-match arrangement and wasn't expensive.


  22. Recalling.


  23. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But I thought little things could make a big difference.


  24. Recalling.


  25. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When Dragonair began its service in 1985, I was about to finish my PCLL studies at HKU, having learned the law of the land.


  26. Recalling.


  27. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I was planning to read an LLM as an external student of London U. My focus then was on International Protection of Human Rights.


  28. Recalling.


  29. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But when I won the Foreign Office's scholarship to read law in UK in 1986, I wanted to study Air Law so that I'd know the international legal environment of air services.


  30. Recalling.


  31. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): UCL was particularly good at that. Air Law is more down-to- earth than Space Law too.


  32. Recalling.


  33. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Having mastered Air Law, I knew the Hong Kong-based Dragonair had a legal problem in its value propositions.


  34. Recalling.


  35. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's about route-fixing - one of the main elements of the so-called "Bermuda Triangle" in air services.


  36. Pausing.


  37. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The British colonial government in Hong Kong was practising one route-one carrier policy.


  38. Pausing.


  39. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The restrictive local air services regime was such that there's no way Dragonair could compete effectively.


  40. Pausing.


  41. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Dragonair had to shift its focus to unserved secondary destinations, especially those in Mainland China.


  42. Pausing.


  43. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In 1990, the airline's stakes began to be acquired by others. And Dragonair flew to Beijing and Shanghai.


  44. Recalling.


  45. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Dragonair was my choice to fly to these destinations. And when the airline was rebranded as Cathay Dragon in 2016, Cathay Dragon.


  46. Recalling.


  47. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): My last flight with Cathay Dragon was to Beijing last December.


  48. Peter stops before red lights again.


  49. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But the brand is history now.


  50. Act 3


  51. INT. ROADS - CONTINUOUS


  52. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Since 2017, I've been flying HK Express to Japan a lot. I'm impressed by its low fares and modern Airbus 320-neo.


  53. Pausing.


  54. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Soon after HK Express was acquired last summer, I joined a focus group and contributed customer feedback.


  55. Pausing.


  56. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Hong Kong-based regional carriers were meant to get a share of the air services market originating from and ending in Hong Kong, China.


  57. Lights turn green.


  58. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): From the business angle, I think having a full-service carrier and a low-cost carrier is like having the best of both worlds.


  59. Pausing.


  60. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Every major carrier has to downsize these days, unless it has got unlimited government support.


  61. Peter looks up at the sky.


  62. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So, exit the dragon.


  63. Pausing.


  64. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Just hope that those being laid off can adapt to the change.

  65. Peter drives on.


  66. FADE OUT.


  67. THE END


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