Why isn’t there first class on Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A350-1000?

By David Flynn, June 21 2018
Why isn’t there first class on Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A350-1000?

The Airbus A350-1000 is the largest single-deck jet from the European aircraft manufacturer and joins the Cathay Pacific fleet this week as a stretched sibling of the A350-900.

However, despite the advanced jet’s size, Cathay Pacific opted to skip first class and lead with business class – admittedly in a sizeable cabin of 46 business class seats.

Why didn’t Cathay Pacific add a small first class cabin to the front of the A350-1000?

“We have the right configuration to suit the needs of the market, and first class consumes quite a bit of space in the aircraft,” reflects Cathay Pacific Chief Customer & Commercial Offer Paul Loo.

“We need a trade-off between having the cabin and having the extra costs (of first class) and having sufficient demand.”

Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350 business class
Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350 business class

While Cathay Pacific retains first class on some of its long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets for flagship routes such as London and New York, Loo sees part of the Airbus A350’s role as being to open up new markets “that may not be available to us today” and where tipping out at business class is the safest bet.

“All the new routes that we have been serving with the A350-900 – Barcelona, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Brussels – are great examples of how the current A350 configuration is working very well.”

But a new first class is on the way…

However, Loo tells Australian Business Traveller that Cathay Pacific is certainly not giving up on first class. “We just want to make it better,” he says of the next-gen suites due to debut on the Boeing 777-9 in 2021.

Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777-300ER first class
Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777-300ER first class

While many of Cathay’s competitors are flying the Airbus A380 and therefore have more space at their disposal – “they go with the direction of having big heavy first class cabins,” Loo says opines – the Hong Kong flag-carrier has “ to work with the limited space that we’ve got.”

“It is not just about space and how we use the space, it’s more than just the physical seat.”

“We are trying out different prototypes and new technologies. It’s going to be a great product and very different from our competition.”

Cathay Pacific is known to be considering private suites with high walls as well as the current open design of its Boeing 777-300ER first class. The Boeing 777-9s will also see an all-new business class seat.

Read more: What's next for Cathay Pacific first class, 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.

04 May 2018

Total posts 45

Sympathy for those who use miles to upgrade to CX First class service, agree with Mr.Loo its a waste of space on smaller aircraft to open new routes.

Have enjoyed First on A380s and really there's little difference and hardly worth the cost. In fact two centre seats in J are much better.
2 lFE,2 tables,more room for articles and just as secluded!

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 26

It makes sense that CX limits their first class seats and A380 metal in a highly competitive Asia market.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 215

CX don't have A380

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 26

Yes I know. It doesn’t suit this market, especially when three giant airlines in China are growing rapidly and needless to mention its traditional competitors, such as SQ, NH, JL, etc.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2011

Total posts 20

QF don't have on the 787-9 so I agree an understandable space including 1st toilets, galley etc. vs demand.

Interestingly they are running 359's to Gatwick, would have though there was demand and PER lots of newly rich mining boom executives coming on, maybe not.

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 36

What airlines have F on A350 aircarft? MH is one to start with. Any other airline?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

I am pretty sure Malaysia Airlines is the only one, as you said.

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 16

Demand - perhaps they should say Paying Demand

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

Paying demand is really the only demand that counts.

21 Jun 2018

Total posts 2

"However, despite the advanced jet’s size, Cathay Pacific opened to skip first class."

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 43

Cathay Pacific doesn't offer First Class to Australia routes anyway.


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