Cathay Pacific puts the squeeze on Boeing 777 economy seating

By Bloomberg News, March 31 2017
Cathay Pacific puts the squeeze on Boeing 777 economy seating

Cathay Pacific, the premium airline that is seeking ways to revive earnings after its first annual loss in eight years, plans to cram more passengers in some aircraft to squeeze out extra revenue.

60 of its Boeing 777-300 family aircraft will have another seat in each economy-class row, shrinking space for fliers by about an inch, Asia’s biggest international carrier said in an emailed statement Friday.

The change will result in a 3-4-3 configuration, in line with the industry standard adopted by many premium carriers, although legroom would remain the same, it said.

The reconfigured planes, to be introduced between mid-2018 and 2020, “will in part help enable the airline to deliver on its goal of growing capacity by 4-5% per annum when the capacity of Hong Kong International Airport is constrained,” Cathay said in the statement.

The marquee airline has embarked on its biggest corporate revamp in two decades, which involves job cuts and changes to mid- and senior-level management, after aggressive expansion by mainland Chinese carriers hurt the Hong Kong-based operator.

Chairman John Slosar told reporters on March 15 that Cathay needs to become better, lower cost, more agile in terms of how it approaches the market.

New economy seat

To make up for the smaller width, Cathay said it will offer “new ergonomically-designed” seats with thicker, customized cushioning, while its long-haul 777-300ER aircraft will have wider-screen, higher-resolution personal TVs.

The South China Morning Post earlier reported on the planned changes to the aircraft.

The legroom will remain at 32 inches, while the width of the seats will shrink by as much as 1.3 inches to 17.2 inches, Cathay said.

Currently, the aircraft have a seat width of 18.2 inches and 18.5 inches respectively, according to industry data tracker

Cathay has 48 of the 777-300ER long-haul jets and 17 of the 777-300 regional planes. It reported a net loss of HK$575 million (US$74 million) for 2016.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 382

I wonder the reason behind Cathay not getting the A380. One of the reasons above  for the extra seat is to grow capacity without extra slots. Their home base is one of the hardest to get slots. You would think the A380 was made for them.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

My best guess that A380 not really that economical comparing to plastic-fantastic B787 or A350. Plus any airplane must flying full (or almost full) to be economical enough and it is not easy with such mammoth as A380. Plus as a passenger I do prefer more flights in smaller planes then one in huge plane - more flights means more choices.

30 Oct 2012

Total posts 23

The A380 is not an aircraft most airlines can use as besides a few trunk routes the airline would just struggle to fill the plane. CX opted instead to go with a less risky option with the 77W so it can just increase frequency when it needs to add more seats (that's why for instance it flies to LHR 5x daily compared to SQ's 4). 

I think it's also fair to say that they didn't expect the slot situation or competition to get this dire 10 years ago when they did their business case...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 371

Cathay is going the wrong way to recoup dollars. If you're a premium airline, stay premium. Cramming more passengers into your planes will be a short time fix but nothing else. 10

abreast on a 777 is equally as cruel as 9 abreast on a 787.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

Forfeiting a main advantage over ME3...


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

BA, SQ, JAL, Korean Air, Thai, Turkish Airlines - still few around who not use " the industry standard adopted by many premium carriers".

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 371

Don't forget VA!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 464

So if I have to fly Y long haul SQ will being looking even better.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 234

Clearly emphasises how good Virgin Aus is staying 9 abreast 777 on USA sectors, when they recently reconfigured the cabin, shows how three value the customer inflight. Prob best layed out cabin pitch and width bar none.

Far superior to 9 abreast 787, A380 or 10 abreast 777.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1198

Probably equal rather than superior to a 10 abreast A380 but definitely a better bet than a 10 abreast 777 or 9 abreast 787.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1198

Well it looks like my European trip on CX next week will be my last.  3 of the sectors are on 77Ws and I refuse to squeeze into 17" seats for 24 hour journeys.  There are lots of A380s and A350s available from MEL to Europe.  I don't see the need to inflict a tightly configured 777 or 787 on myself.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 219

Backward step by my Oneworld alternative when I am not on Qantas. Shame as I enjoy hubbing through HK occasionally.  Not a problem if in J but the squashed 777 in Y is not much fun. 

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 1

Not premium and a definite step backwards. Hopefully Cathay adds the A350 its Sydney route soon, so there's an alternative to being a sardine in the 777's.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 192

rather not fly than squeezed in the battered hen class-10 seat in a row! yuk

look alternatives if you can't afford business class till all airline use their fleet as  a rush hour bus service

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

Airlines are among those interesting industries (like banking) where every 'enhancement' comes at a cost to the customer. Always looking at ways to give customer less. Looking at getting as close to the line where people say 'enough is enough', without getting their toes burnt..

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