More new Business Class seats on new planes for Cathay Pacific

By John Walton, March 10 2011
More new Business Class seats on new planes for Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific ordered 27 new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus yesterday -- and all are the types fitted with the new Business Class seat we reviewed last week.

10 more Boeing 777-300ERs and 15 additional Airbus A330-300s with Cathay's name on them will head to Hong Kong over the next four years. The orders bring the airline's total book of new planes to 91 aircraft, to be delivered by 2019.

The new planes are intended to replace Cathay Pacific's older Boeing 747 and Airbus A340 aircraft, which are reaching the end of their cost-effective life for Cathay

The retirement of older aircraft will also cut down the number of different types of aircraft Cathay uses (which is better for the airline's bottom line), and will make it more likely that business class passengers will find the new business class seats on their flight.

Cathay's new seats -- a vast improvement on the much-pilloried "coffin class" pod seats used previously -- will be installed on all the airline's new aircraft. 

At the moment, business class passengers between Hong Kong and Sydney are most likely to see the new seats, but travellers connecting through Hong Kong to other destinations are unlikely to find them on their connecting flights.

Aircraft maker Boeing will be disappointed that Cathay Pacific -- one of its best 747 customers -- chose new 777s over its revamped Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. 

The stretched 777-300ER carries 78 fewer passengers (although it has more business class seats) than the older 747, but is significantly more fuel and labour efficient, with two engines rather than four. 

Cathay's decision is another sign that Boeing's real competition for the new 747-8 Intercontinental is its own 777-300ER rather than Airbus' A380 superjumbo, even among airlines already flying 747s.

The as-yet-unbuilt Airbus A350 is also in Cathay's sights, with the airline ordering two via leasing company ILFC. These are planned to arrive by 2015 too -- a full year before Cathay's own direct orders of the A350. 

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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