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Cathay Cargo Orders Six A350Fs

Cathay Pacific orders six A350Fs with 20 more options and will enjoy fleet commonality with its existing fleet of 47 A350s.

A Cathay Pacific A350F rendering. (Photo: Airbus)

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has placed orders for six Airbus A350Fs, the cargo variant of the popular long-haul passenger jet A350XWB, as a part of its fleet renewal process. The carrier also holds options for 20 more aircraft.

The A350 Freighter is marketed as the replacement of the carrier’s Boeing 747Fs, with similar volumes and capabilities but superior performance and efficiency. Cathay Cargo is an operator of the 747 Freighters, operating 14 of the newer 747-8F and six 747-400ERFs. The fleet of 747s is the only cargo aircraft Cathay operates, complementing its passenger network and serving destinations around the world.

Fleet Commonality

Cathay operates the third largest A350 fleet in the world, with 47 in its fleet. It is also one of the just four carriers to operate both the A350-900 and -1000 variants. With the new order, it will have a combined fleet of 54, with the option of 20 more freighters. One more A350-900 has yet to be delivered out of Cathay’s original order of 46. Another two units are leased.

A Cathay Pacific A350 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

With the A350 freighters, Cathay is able to achieve commonality in various aspects of its operation. The cargo jet uses the same engine, the Trent 97-XWB, as the A350-1000s which are already in service in Cathay’s fleet. According to Airbus, the A350s and A350Fs have 100% commonality when it comes to engines and 99% in terms of spare parts. The same crews and technicians can be used on both types as well. Hong Kong-based HAECO, owned by Swire, the parent company of Cathay, is one of the few designated MRO providers for the Trent XWB engines.


The A350F has a greater payload than its primary competitor, the Boeing 777 Freighters. With a range of 4,700 nautical miles, the aircraft will also have a greater range than other players in the field, including 747F, MD11F, and the upcoming B777-8F. If all goes as planned, the aircraft is expected to be a leader in the freighter market.

Cathay 747F and A350 at Singapore Changi (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Anthony An)

For airlines looking for newer cargo jets, however, the options are plenty. Passenger jets converted into freighters are often proven to be the more economical option. In the last few years, the 777-300ER and 777-200LR are both being converted into freighters, and other long-haul jets, including older A330s, can be converted with a much lower cost than a brand-new freighter.

Airbus also puts emphasis on the efficiency of the A350F and its low emissions. It is set to be the only freighter capable of meeting the ICAO emission target with its reduced fuel consumption and emission. The type will also have improved Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) capabilities.

Recent Orders

Since its launch in 2021, the A350F has received orders from several major airlines, most of which are existing or future operators of A350 passenger jets. Singapore Airlines is expected to become its launch customer with its order for seven A350Fs. More recently in 2023, the Air France-KLM group ordered four A350Fs for its subsidiary Martinair Holland, aiming to replace aging 747 freighters.

Air France is also set to get four A350Fs, Air France-KLM will have a total of 8 A350Fs. The remaining orders of the jet come from Etihad with 7, lessor ALC with seven, French cargo airline CMA CGM with 4, and Silk Way West with two.

Anthony Bang An


  • Anthony Bang An

    Anthony is an airline enthusiast who also loves traveling. He grew up around the world from St. Louis to Singapore and now lives in Amsterdam. He loves long-haul flying and finds peace in the sound of engine cruising. Fresh out of high school, he aspires to be working in the aviation industry and share his passion for the sky. 

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