Organized Panel Session
Unlike its Asian rivals who strove to establish a foothold in commercial aviation during the 1960s, Cathay Pacific, the flagship carrier of Hong Kong, opted not to fashion a quintessential Hong Kong style for its customers. Instead, the airline showcased a Pan-Asian cabin crew that represented many of its destinations in the region, working under the dependable cockpit personnel comprising experienced Western pilots. Cheongsam-clad “hostesses” of Chinese descent worked comfortably alongside their Japanese colleagues smartly attired in kimono as well as other crewmembers from Southeast Asia and India. Cockpit crew, in their military-inspired uniform, reassured customers with their stripes proudly displayed on the epaulette. This deliberate amalgamation of styles projected a cosmopolitan blend that captured the desired elements from the cultures that intermingled in Hong Kong as well as the network that Cathay Pacific facilitated. Refusing to essentialize Hong Kong, this pragmatic combination of elements onboard Cathay Pacific produced a distinct sense of cosmopolitan for Hong Kong and paralleled the development of the British colony into an Asian hub where businessmen could converge with ease. Evidently, the worldview thus constructed was laden with hierarchical issues with regard to race, class, and gender. In the process, Cathay Pacific promoted through commercial aviation the articulation of cosmopolitan Hong Kong and reflected the larger social issues the city faced during the period of its economic take-off.