Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has announced plans to enhance their narrow-body jet fleet, recently ordering 32 Airbus A320neo and A321neo.
Cathay Pacific ordered narrow-body aircraft from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus as part of its expansion strategy, including subsidiary HK Express, which operates short and medium routes. The aircraft will be divided between both airlines. Cathay operates using a fleet of Airbus A321neo, while HK Express uses both variants, mostly operating low-demand routes around East Asia.
Cathay Pacific started operation with narrow-body jets in 2021 after the merger with Cathay Dragon, which operated both narrow and wide bodies such as Airbus A320 and Airbus A330.
Cathay Pacific’s Fleet
Cathay Pacific operates a mix of Airbus and Boeing. Before discussing the fleet, it’s important to note that Cathay Pacific has two subsidiary airlines: a low-cost and a cargo airline. The total of them would be 222 aircraft consisting of narrow and wide bodies.
HK Express is a low-cost airline owned by Cathay Pacific, operating all Airbus aircraft. The airline has 27 aircraft in its fleet, including Airbus A320neo, A321neo, A320ceo and A321ceo.
Cathay Pacific used to operate all variants of the Airbus A340, including the 200, 300, and 600. However, all have been retired, with the Airbus A340-300 being the last to leave the airline in 2017.
The airline currently operates a fleet of 159 aircraft that combines Airbus and Boeing models. Airbus A320 (A320neo, A320ceo), Airbus A321 (A321ceo, A321neo), Airbus A330-300, Airbus A350 (A530-900, A350-1000), Boeing B777 (B777-200, B777-300), Boeing B747 (B747-200, B747-300, B747-400, B747-800). According to Airfleets Aviation.
Rehabilitation After COVID-19
Cathay Pacific Airlines is one of many airlines hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline faced many financial and operational issues during that period, forcing it to halt operations and lay off 5,300 employees in Hong Kong. More recently, the airline has struggled to hire new employees.
Cathay reported a net profit of US$546 million in the first half of 2023. The airline’s positive earnings will lead to service expansion and market share recovery.
China’s mainland is their main target and is showing high demand. Cathay connects Hong Kong with China’s mainland, allowing Chinese customers to connect to other destinations in its network. Cathay is planning to fly A320neo on these routes.
Upcoming Orders And Expansion
Cathay is planning to enhance its route and fleet structure. On a route basis, the airline plans to increase the frequency to Perth with 3 to 5 weekly flights while also focusing on the South African market.
Cathay Pacific operates around 47 Airbus A350 aircraft, including 900 and 1000 variants. The airline gave a $2 billion order for a B777X freighter to replace its Boeing 747 freighters, considering the age of the fleet. By 2025, Cathay is expecting the brand-new Boeing 777-9X to join the fleet. The retired Boeing B777 aircraft is being replaced by an Airbus A350 with a different configuration.
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