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.