Cathay Pacific plans new regional business class for 2019

By David Flynn, April 18 2017
Cathay Pacific plans new regional business class for 2019

Cathay Pacific has a new generation of regional business class seats on the way – but they won't arrive until the end of 2019, and they won’t be fully-flat.

The seats will debut on the new fleet of regional sibling Cathay Dragon, nee Dragon Air, which the airline expects will be either the Airbus A320neo or Boeing 737 MAX.

That decision is due to be called before the end of this year, according to James Evans, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of Product.

“I suspect we’ll be talking about which manufacturer we will choose maybe by Q3 this year,” Evans tells Australian Business Traveller, “and we are in the process of planning the seats for that fleet now.”

Cathay is looking to purchase 32 new single-aisle jets from Airbus or Boeing “to replace the 23 in the Cathay Dragon fleet, so there’s growth in there as well.”

Whichever aircraft gets the nod, it will sport a new regional business class seat to replace the current model introduced in 2013.

And it definitely won’t be a fully flat bed.

“You don't need it for a couple of hours’ flight and, given how many seats you'd need to compromise, it doesn’t make commercial sense” Evans explains.

“You just need to make sure you have a very good, very ‘Cathay’ business class on the regional routes and make sure there’s a fantastic crew to complement that.”

Single-aisle Airbus A320 and A321 jets dominate the Cathay Dragon fleet, although the regional airline has inherited some larger Airbus A330s from its parent and will see more in the coming years as Cathay Pacific’s A350 fleet expands.

“That’s very much the direction were going in,” Evans says. “The A330s will generally move from Cathay Pacific to Cathay Dragon, which allows us to grow capacity on Cathay Dragon routes.”

However, there are no plans to bring the new regional business class seat across to the regional Airbus A330 or Boeing 777 jets flown by Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific.

For now, the business class seats in those twin-aisle jets will receive what Evans describes as “the standard refresh that happens after a certain number of years,” which will involve new covers and cushions.


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.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

Cathay Pacific's regional business class seats aren't actually that bad – it's just that the pillows and headphones are also downgraded to economy-style pillows (just red ones) and inferior headphones on regional flights, which I'm sure no traveler would appreciate.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1189

For flights under 4 hours, the approach adopted by CX/KA makes sense particularly on single-aisle jets.  Unless pax are prepared to pay nearly double the price for their ticket, there is no point using up precious real estate on lie flat beds that will be rarely used.

Aren't the existing regional seats relatively new? Changing again? Have I missed something? 

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 622

I think U've missed something mentioned clearly @ the end of the article.

In addition, regional J design in CX/KA's regional 330/777 fleet is relatively new.  Regional J design in KA's 320 family fleet is pretty old.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 470

Makes perfect sense. For flights under about 6 hours, flat beds are a waste of space that simply aren't needed (most especially for day flights).


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1463

I used current regional business in CX HKG-BKK flight and IMHO they perfectly fine for few hours flight. And (IMHO again) they far better than domestic MEL-SYD seats from QF.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Cathay Pacific plans new regional business class for 2019