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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


  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


  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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