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Cathay Pacific Orders More A321neos
32 more A320neos and A321neos will enter service with Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary HK Express.
The A32oneo family continues to enjoy extraordinary growth in recent years with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific announcing orders for 32 more of the type. The order consists of both the A320neo and A321neo, though the exact composition is unclear. The aircraft will be in service with both Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary HK Express, according to Barron’s.
Cathay Pacific had 32 A320neos on order originally. With the new addition, the total number of A320neos the group is expected to take will increase. Currently, Cathay Pacific operates the A321neo variant while HK Express operates both. The type is mostly flying on lower-demand routes from Hong Kong to East Asia.
One of the hardest hit airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathay has turned a profit for the first time in three years, announcing a net profit of US$546 million for the first half of 2023. The positive earnings means that the airline will once again be looking at expanding services and regaining its market share.
One of the areas it is hoping to target is the China Mainland. Cathay has had success in connecting Hong Kong to the China Mainland, allowing Chinese travelers to connect to other destinations in its network. The new A320neos, according to its CEO, will be deployed on these routes and will enable Cathay to open more destinations in the region.
The Future of Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific started narrow-body operations in 2021 when Cathay Dragon, a former subsidiary of Cathay, was merged into Cathay Pacific. It ended its long history of exclusively wide-body fleet operation and started flying the A321neos. With the additional orders for A320neos, we will have a rough idea of what the fleet will look like.
Cathay already boasts a fairly young fleet, with a combined cargo and passenger jets average age of 11 years according to Planespotters.net. The airline still operates a passenger fleet mainly consisting of widebody jets, with only 13 A321neos in operation at the moment out of the 160 passenger jets it operates.
The backbone of the fleet will be the Airbus A350s. Cathay Pacific is the third largest operator of the type with 47 units and has both the -900 and -1000 variants. With an average age of just a little over five years, the type is expected to support Cathay’s operation for decades to come.
Cathay Pacific’s aging Boeing 777 fleet, the most popular type in its fleet at the moment with 56 units, is expected to be partially taken over by the brand new and repeatedly delayed 777-9X. Cathay currently has 21 on order and is expected to start taking delivery of them in 2025. In the meantime, some A350-1000s are filling the vacancies left by the retired 777 in the fleet, though carrying very different configurations. The A330 fleet, many inherited from Cathay Dragon, is also approaching retirement age. The exact replacement is not yet known and Cathay is expected to order more aircraft in the coming seasons.
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