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Cathay Pacific Returns Last COVID-Grounded Aircraft to Service

The Airbus A330 had been parked for nearly four years.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 in storage (Photo: Cathay Group)

Cathay Pacific announced the return of its final aircraft that had been parked overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aircraft has been in storage for nearly four years.

An Airbus A330 – registered as B-HLV – arrived in Hong Kong on June 6 after sitting in the Central Australian desert. The aircraft, which belongs to Cathay Pacific, was the first from the Cathay Group to be placed in long-term storage in July 2020 as air travel declined sharply due to COVID-19.

At the height of the pandemic, Cathay Pacific and HK Express parked a large portion of their passenger fleet at Hong Kong International Airport and overseas locations like Alice Springs, Australia and Ciudad Real, Spain. As travel restrictions eased, Cathay Group began a systematic process of reactivating these aircraft.

As of March 2023, IATA estimates show that 6,300 commercial aircraft were in storage, an 83% increase from pre-pandemic times.

“The parking and reactivation of so many aircraft is a historic undertaking for Cathay,” said Alex McGowan, Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer at Cathay Pacific. “Our teams around the world worked tirelessly to ensure these valuable assets were cared for and are now ready to return to service.”

Cathay Group expressed gratitude to the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department for its support throughout the process. The company also highlighted the dedication of its staff and partners like HAECO, Boeing, Airbus, and Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) for their contributions to the successful aircraft storage and reactivation program.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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