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

Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777-9, and the airline's next-gen first class suites and business class seats, are in for another delay.

By David Flynn, August 12 2020
Cathay Pacific delays Boeing 777-9, new first & business class

Cathay Pacific will push back the delivery of its first Boeing 777-9 and the debut of its next-generation first and business class until at least 2022 and potentially some years later, the airline confirmed today in presenting its interim results for the 2020 financial year.

The Oneworld member has 21 Boeing 777-9 jetliners on order, with deliveries previously slated to begin in 2021 and stream through to 2024 as Cathay's new flagship.

The airline says "advanced negotiations are taking place with Boeing for the deferral of B777-9 deliveries" in order to deliver short- to medium-term cash savings.

However, executives say the airline has no intention of cutting back on its 21-strong order book.

"We're in discussions with Boeing about a deferral of the 777-9 program (but) not a cancellation of it," said Greg Hughes, Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer for the Cathay Pacific Group, during a press briefing following the results presentation. "It's a deferral of all 21 aircraft."

The Boeing 777-9 will define Cathay's premium travel experience for this decade.
The Boeing 777-9 will define Cathay's premium travel experience for this decade.

There's already been a one-year delay in the Boeing 777-9 timeline, with a fleet profile in the 2020 Interim Results now showing that deliveries are already slated from 2022 "and beyond".

This is in line with Boeing's own announcement on July 30 that the launch of the already-delayed 777X will take place sometime in 2022, with Emirates set to pick up the keys.

Also read: Emirates' new Boeing 777X first, business class

Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways are also in the queue, although they like Cathay Pacific are in discussions with Boeing about delaying their orders. Also in common with Cathay Pacific, those carriers intend to use the Boeing 777-9 as the launch pad for new business class and in some cases first class.

Cathay has yet to reveal exactly what's planned for its Boeing 777-9, although those plans would likely be locked in by now, given the necessary lead-time in designing, testing, manufacturing and certifying each seat.

The airline has previously confirmed that its Boeing 777-9s will be crowned by an all-new first class cabin, to replace the current long-lived design which debuted in 2007 – making it at least 15 years old by the time its Boeing 777-9 replacement takes wing.

Cathay's Boeing 777 first class will make way for an all-new design on the 777X.
Cathay's Boeing 777 first class will make way for an all-new design on the 777X.

The suites have since undergone two updates of the physical or 'hard' product – once in 2013, another in 2017 – with a 'soft product' refresh from late 2019.

In shaping a new first class for a new decade, Cathay Pacific is understood to have worked through mock-ups of high-walled private cribs as well as the more open design of the current first class suites.

Likewise, Cathay Pacific's current business class seat is based on a design from 2011 – so, one decade on, is it time for another evolution or more of a revolution of Cathay's flagship business class experience?

How much change is Cathay planning from its current decade-old business class design?
How much change is Cathay planning from its current decade-old business class design?

While the airline is known to have been in 'deep evaluation' of several concepts – including at least one which swapped the classic and popular angled layout for a staggered forward-facing seat orientation – nothing of substance has surfaced.

However, the reveal of the airline's new regional business class seat is close at hand, with confirmation that two Airbus A321neo jets are headed for the hangars of Cathay Dragon across October-November 2020.

Read more: Cathay confirms October debut for Airbus A321neo, new 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.