Cathay confirms October debut for Airbus A321neo, new business class

The factory-fresh A321neo will sport a new-look regional business class for Cathay Dragon.

By David Flynn, August 12 2020
Cathay confirms October debut for Airbus A321neo, new business class

Cathay Dragon's first Airbus A321neo is expected to make its debut in October, and with it, Cathay Pacific's regional offshoot will reveal an all-new business class seat.

"At this point in time we expect two deliveries to occur, roughly in October-November of this year," Greg Hughes, Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer for the Cathay Pacific Group, told Executive Traveller during a press briefing following the airline's presentation of its interim results for the 2020 financial year.

However, which cities in the Cathay Dragon network will be served by the two fuel-efficient jets will depend on the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on border restrictions and overall travel demand.

"The entry into service and the routes onto which those aircraft will be deployed really depends on the recovery," Hughes added, "and how that develops over the coming months, so we don’t yet have a firm plan on that."

According to the group's latest fleet plan, four more A321neo jets are headed for the Cathay Dragon hangars in 2021, with 10 to follow in 2022 "and beyond".

A seatmap for the Cathay Dragon Airbus A321neo sighted by Executive Traveller shows 12 business class seats, arranged in three rows of two-across: that's half as many business class seats as on Cathay's current Airbus A321 'classic' jets, but 50% more than the A320s.

While those premium pews will be a fresh design for Cathay Dragon business class, their layout indicates that Cathay will continue with the same 'regional recliner' approach as its current seat, which began flying in 2013, rather than taking the leap to a fully-flat business class as has been done by competitor Singapore Airlines for its own regional Silk Air arm.

Cathay Dragon's current regional business class seat.
Cathay Dragon's current regional business class seat.

This is in keeping with what Vivian Lo, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Customer Experience & Design, previously indicated to Executive Traveller, noting that with "the majority of the flights are below two hours, stretched to four and at most six", those flight durations did not require the lie-flat luxury of a business class bed.

However, Lo emphasised that "the product for the A321neo will be a next-generational product for Cathay Dragon."

"The A321neo is a very modern aircraft, with a lot of the technology that our customers love from the A350 in a narrow-body environment."

Vivian Lo: for short flights, a relaxing recliner is more appropriate than a flat bed.
Vivian Lo: for short flights, a relaxing recliner is more appropriate than a flat bed.

Behind the business class cabin of Cathay Dragon's Airbus A321neo will be 190 economy seats in a conventional 3-3 layout. This gives the A321neo a total of 202 seats, against the 164-seat A320 and 172-seat A321 which it was intended to replace.

Cathay Dragon may continue flying its older seat and A320-series jets for a while longer.
Cathay Dragon may continue flying its older seat and A320-series jets for a while longer.

As previously reported, Cathay Pacific has also split its order for 32 A321neo jets to allocate just 16 to Cathay Dragon and 16 to low-cost carrier HK Express, which Cathay acquired in 2019 for $915 million to focus on leisure destinations.

Also read: Cathay Pacific delays Boeing 777-9, new first & business class

David

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.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 74

Hi David, my wife and I flew Cathay from Melbourne to HK in Y a couple of years ago and from there to Danang with the 'dragon' and as they say you get what you pay for. The return trip was the same except the HK to Melb leg was in premium econ. For what it is worth, Cathay is up there delivering what they promise and the upgrade to the A321neo will only enhance their appeal. This company is a great alternative to our national carrier and as a One World partner you get a better schedule and points and SC as well. Stop off in HK airport to other Asian destinations is great and supremely welcoming.

jpz
jpz

13 Aug 2020

Total posts 4

Maybe those neo jets will be launched on Mainland China routes as outbound Chinese passengers will be allowed to transit through HKG since 15 August

Although not inbound transit so only one way, well it's not as if Cathay doesn't have enough spare jets sitting around. The A321neo briefly appeared on a schedule for one Chinese city, can't recall now which one but it wasn't one of the big ones. When you look at the Cathay Dragon network there are a lot of places right now that you can't fly to anyway, and given the entry restrictions at HK as well I think there's not a lot of options apart from mainland China. I am honestly surprised Cathay is taking delivery of the A321neo this year anyway.

jpz
jpz

13 Aug 2020

Total posts 4

Maybe they just stick to the original planned schedule, replacing some ageing A320s with neos. However their 20-yr-old A320 I took this year still looks quite new.

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 73

Cathay and there dragon are great airlines, Fingers crossed they don’t use these jets for there red eyes out of Jakarta, singapore & the sub continent! 

Some brutal red eyes no matter were your sitting! 

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 7

Interesting article and conjecture in the comments. Some additional context: on 13 August, I counted three Cathay Dragon A320s and two A321s passing though Darwin on their way to Alice Springs, certainly for storage. Most were pretty old - at or close to 20 years. They add to the 12 Cathay group A320s, A321s, A330s and 777s already there. Alice Springs Airport has become a planespotters' paradise!

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 97

I'm sorry but this is total PR nonsense, that no one is buying  "the majority of the flights are below two hours, stretched to four and at most six"

So great, put these exclusively 100% on the routes up to four hours.

Six hours in a recliner is not even seen among the serious US transcon players.  I say "serious" because AS is not, when it comes to transcon, and neither is CX serious about valuing its customers.   I'll fly SQ.


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