Cathay Pacific's new regional business class to launch early 2020

By David Flynn, July 12 2019

Cathay Pacific plans to launch its new regional business class seat in early 2020, alongside the debut of new Airbus A321neo jets for regional arm Cathay Dragon.

32 single-aisle Airbus A321neo aircraft will replace 23 smaller A320s in the Cathay Dragon fleet between 2020 and 2023, delivering increased capacity on key routes such as Shanghai and Beijing as well as opening up new destinations.

A spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific confirmed the timetable to Executive Traveller, with the new seats kicking off a renewal which will the following year see Cathay reveal its next generation long-range first class and business class on board the Boeing 777-9.

The A321neo jets will have around 200 seats from tip to tail, but travellers shouldn't expect to be able to go flat out at the pointy end.

To date, the airline has indicated that the 2020 regional business class seats will retain the same 'deep recline' design as the current product (seen below), rather than transform into a fully lie-flat bed, reflecting an average regional flight duration of 2-3 hours.

Cathay Pacific's 2020 regional business class could be more evolution than revolution

However, this would invite stark contrast with Asian competitor Singapore Airlines, which will roll out flat beds across its own regional fleet from mid-2020.

This will come as regional arm SilkAir is folded into it's parent superbrand and fits newly-delivered Boeing 737 jets with a flatbed business class in the form of Thompson Aero's popular Vantage design.

Thompson's Vantage will bring flatbed comfort to SQ's regional high flyers

While the Vantage lacks direct aisle access for every passenger, it does offer a handful of 'throne' seats for solo flyers.

SilkAir's new Boeing 737 regional business class will include a handful of 'throne' seats

Combined with the arrival of more Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-10s for Singapore Airlines' medium- and long-range fleet, and the retirement of older Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 jets with 'sloping sleepers' in business class, “we’ll have lie-fiat business class even on the shortest flights, even on the narrow-bodies!” declares Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.

Read more: Singapore Airlines transitions to all-flatbed business class from 2020


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.



20 May 2015

Total posts 584

I wonder how likely it is that Cathay will use the HAECO Eclipse for their regional business class (and Cathay Dragon Business)?It would make sense I think.

Kevin Cheung

Kevin Cheung

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 14

Unlikely as HAECO has already announced the launch customer will be a Middle Eastern airline sometime in 2020, speculation is that this might be Emirates, but either way I'd say that rules out Cathay as their A321neos will be Q1 2020.



28 Oct 2015

Total posts 5

i find it virtually impossible to get comfortable in the current regional seat. It’s by no means a “deep” recline. The saving grace is it’s frequently possible to avoid this seat given Cathay fly their intercontinental planes on a lot of regional flights.



16 Dec 2017

Total posts 9

Exactly! Thats how it earned its name "Fake J"!



21 Apr 2017

Total posts 35

Perhaps a statement of the obvious but for me a lot depends on the sector length. For sectors of up to 3 hours I actually find it pretty good and you sure notice how generous the seat size is when you step on the short-haul "business" offerings of many other Airlines. The seat feels particularly generous on the smaller A320s operated by KA. But I completely agree that for longer sectors or when connecting regionally off a long-haul flight, its not much fun. While SQ's commitment to 100% regional lie flat is laudable I do wonder about the economics of their layout given the pressure on short-haul J fares in Asia.

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