Cathay Pacific in Sep-2015 will take delivery of its 53rd 777-300ER, which will be the last of its current 777 order. 777Xs arrive next decade but first Cathay will take A350s. Cathay has 48 A350s on order, including 22 -900s and 46 -1000s.
The first -900 is due in Feb-2016 and is expected to be the first to feature Cathay’s new livery following a brand refresh earlier in 2015.
Cathay in Aug-2015 confirmed Auckland will be the first long-haul A350 route after previously just saying Auckland would be one of the first. Cathay also flagged the A350’s opportunity to open new routes, including the European destinations of London Gatwick (supplementing existing five daily London Heathrow service), Copenhagen and Madrid.
Cathay has been on a long haul expansion streak, opening six markets over 18 months. Europe is a focus as Cathay has been under-exposed on the continent compared to peers including Air China and Singapore Airlines.
Reports from Israel have also suggested Cathay is considering A350 service to Tel Aviv.
See related report: El Al’s plans to buy 787s will allow fleet renewal, perhaps expansion. Hainan, Cathay to Tel Aviv?
The A350 will also be used to up-gauge some A330 Australian routes as well as take over thinner routes currently served by the 777-300ER. Some of these like Rome were previously served by the A340-300 until that type was pulled-down from long-haul service. Manchester is expected to be changed from a four weekly 777-300ER service to daily A350-900, given Cathay’s consistent, at least daily, offering it likes to have in markets.
Other markets are expected to be changed to the A350, allowing right-sizing since in recent times the 777-300ER was Cathay’s smallest long-haul aircraft. The A350’s introduction will allow re-deployment of 777-300ERs.