Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 flights to Auckland start October 30

By David Flynn, June 1 2016
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 flights to Auckland start October 30

Cathay Pacific plans to launch daily Airbus A350 flights between Hong Kong and Auckland from October 30.

The airline's schedule now shows the A350 featuring on the daily CX197/198 flight, although it's of course subject to change back to the regular and less exciting Airbus A340-300.

Travellers will enjoy Cathay's updated business class (shown below) and all-new premium economy seat, along with free satellite TV plus inflight WiFi available at US$20 for the entire 11 hours of the flight.

Auckland is the third confirmed route for the next-gen jetliner, following an early September start for Dusseldorf and London Gatwick, and is sure to be followed in short form by other European destinations as Cathay Pacific grows its A350 fleet to as many as 12 jets by year's end ( with another ten to come in 2017).

PREVIOUS | Cathay Pacific will begin flying the advanced Airbus A350 to Auckland in the second half of this year, although Australia is unlikely to see the fuel-efficient jetliner until 2017.

The Hong Kong airline is expected to take delivery of the first of 22 Airbus A350-900s in March, but apart from a regional debut in New Zealand the new aircraft will be focussed on Europe, including a push into several new destinations.

London's Gatwick Airport is the first of these to be announced, with four flights a week from September 2nd to supplement the five daily flights into Heathrow.

Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Milan and Zurich are also tipped for a spot on the A350 route map, following early 'familiarisation' runs from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Manila, Osaka, Singapore and Taipei.

Read: Inside Cathay Pacific's all-new Airbus A350

NZ nabs top spot

"Auckland will be one of the first A350 routes, certainly the first in the Southwest Pacific", the airline's regional general manager Nelson Chin tells Australian Business Traveller. "I'm quite confident we will have that in the second half of 2016."

"But in the coming years there will be no shortage of A350s, we're ordering a total of 22, and you'll see a lot of transitions from Airbus A330s to A350s."

That will include Australia, where Cathay almost exclusively flies A330s except for two Boeing 777-300ER services to Sydney.

And it'll be a rapid roll-out, with Cathay Pacific picking up the keys to 12 A350s this year and ten more in 2017.

Read more: Inside Cathay Pacific's all-new Airbus A350

A350 leans towards longer routes

Chin explains that Auckland scored top billing for the A350's regional launch because the long route – some 5,688 miles – is better suited to the A350's thrifty nature than the relatively shorter Australian runs.

"Fuel costs have have gone down but it still matters greatly in terms of overall costs" Chin says. "So the longer the route, the more benefit you get from a fuel-saving aircraft like the A350, which is much more cost-efficient per seat than the other aircraft we have."

"That's why you’ll see us deploy more A350s onto long-haul routes first, like Gatwick and a lot of other European ports."

"We have very good ideas about the new potential routes we will be flying to once the delivery schedule is set in concrete" Chin adds.

Cathay Pacific has also inked a deal for 26 of the larger and longer-range A350-1000s with deliveries from 2018, of which Chin says "you'll see see a lot more possibilities in terms of operating into the likes of North America and new cities that will be explored, what we might call secondary cities."

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 362

This is excellent news! The A340 they currently use on this route is incredibly below par

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 102

Yeah, and they have reported once that their A340s had to land at Sydney for repairs once. So putting A350 to Auckland will definitely improve the reliability of service on that route.

28 Jan 2016

Total posts 3

Luckily enough I have avoided the A343 and have taken the later flight on the 777-300ER

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

As expected...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 356

I don't care about the A350 or any aircraft. Give us first class!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 502

Get a private jet if you want first class.

11 Aug 2015

Total posts 23

Cathay has a lot of catching up to do both in Europe and North America. (Going off other airlines' destination in both continents). The A350 will be a game changer for Cathay as they can compete with other airlines to Europe by opening new secondary destination with the -900. They can also use the -1000 for opening new routes in the Americas, north and south. With only 6 destination in the Americas (JFK,LAX,SFO,ORD,BOS,EWR), they should open new destinations to Washington DC, Seattle, Dallas/Houston, Denver, Miami and Atlanta, some of which already have scheduled cargo flights. Interested to see if they do a Hong Kong-Honolulu-Rio/Sao Paulo to open up that first South American destination. Interested to hear what anyone else has to say in terms of possible new routes to the US and Europe. Thanks

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 232

Agreed, there's a big market between Hong Kong and Brazil so hopefully with the new aircraft South America will be in Cathay's sights. 


10 Dec 2015

Total posts 177

<<...opening new routes in the Americas, north and south.  With only 6 destinations in the Americas>>

So YVR and YYZ don't count as <<in the Americas>>?  YVR has been part of CX network continuously for over 30yrs and was in fact CX's 1st N.American destination.

<<Interested to see if they do a Hong Kong-Honolulu-Rio/Sau Paulo....>>

Interesting but operationally illogical/unrealistic.  Fm HKG, the most logical tech stop to/fm EZE/GRU should be JNB which is already a CX destination for well over a decade(HNL on the other hand....).  Over 12% diff in route duration HKG-HNL-EZE vs HKG-JNB-EZE.  Similar story re GRU.  In addition, while pax need a U.S. visa to transit @ HNL, they don't need any visa to transit @ JNB.....a critical obstacle to serve almost all HK and mainland Chinese source mkts where U.S. visa is a pain to obtain(Especially when pax are not even going to the U.S. at all) but will form the majority of traffic demand on any CX flight to S.America.

Of course to make EZE/GRU financially work fm HKG, CX needs 5th freedom authority(So not merely a tech stop for such ultra-long routes) @ either HNL or JNB.  However, I don't think 1 will be easier to obtain than the other.

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 128

I disagree that Cathay "has a lot of catching up to do".  I believe they fly to more cities in North America (8 including YYZ/YVR - thanks for remembering us FLX!) and carry more passengers than any other Asian airline except Korean.  That's impressive considering HKG is not particularly well located for connections compared to Japan, Korea, or China proper.

Remember too that Cathay has connecting feed at many of their current ports from American, Alaska, and WestJet, something they wouldn't get at smaller centres.  Of your suggestions, I think only SEA (for Alaska connections) is a real possibility in the near future, and even it is limited by its small size, strong competition from Delta, and proximity to YVR.  Cathay decided not to do HKG-DFW after American launched the route in 2014, and MIA is too far to go non-stop (longer than SYD-DFW by over 400 miles).  IAD, IAH, DEN, and ATL are all hubs of rival alliances without major Asian populations, so they're unlikely.  The old US Airways hubs at PHL and CLT might be possibilities if there's enough connecting traffic.

If the US were to allow visa-free transit, I'm sure we'd see new flights from Cathay, but even then they'd probably feed into American's hub at DFW for connections to South America rather than flying many routes themselves.  What we may see is another one-stop service through YVR.  Canada already allows some visa-free transit (in particular for Chinese nationals) and has given Cathay fifth-freedom traffic rights on HKG-YVR-JFK.  They could probably be convinced to do the same for HKG-YVR-MIA or HKG-YVR-GRU, especially since neither of those cities currently has service from YVR.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 26

Can't wait to see in in action! Although it's bad news to know that Cathay has a strong hedge on fuel at the moment...which puts them at a much higher operating costs vs competition...

Year Hedge Amount
2015 61% at USD95
2016 60% at USD85
2017 50% at USD89
2018 37% at USD82 

Air Berlin - topbonus

30 Apr 2015

Total posts 12

I wonder if they will be able to introduce the A350 this year between HKG and AKL as Airbus seems to have several delays in their production line. Any idea on which flight (numbers) they will operate it? 1:1 exchange for the A340 or maybe also on flights which are currently served by the 777-300ER?

07 Feb 2016

Total posts 21

The confirmation of this much anticipated announcement is certainly welcome news. Cathay Pacific has to capitalise on the Airbus A350 XWB's growth potential extensively as it is the only aircraft type on order until 2021 when the Boeing 777-9 is scheduled to arrive. Apart from the expected right-sizing of certain routes like Auckland, Dusseldorf, Manchester and Zurich, Cathay has the opportunity to breakaway from being typically conservative with its network development with the A350, as it is a low risk option for many long haul routes where entry so far was unviable. I hope that quite a few brand new destinations can become part of CX's portfolio in the next few years so that it is able to fend of competition from its Northeast Asian rivals, especially its very own Chinese neighbours.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 12

Paris also being launched on Oct 31 this year :) (with the a350)

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