Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific has announced its intention to add up to 32 Airbus A321neo and A320neo aircraft to its fleet over the next six years. The airline is expanding and modernizing its fleet as part of its plans to turn Hong Kong into an international aviation hub. These aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2029 and will be used by Cathay Pacific and its low-cost subsidiary HK Express. This announcement means the Cathay Group will receive more than 70 additional aircraft in the coming years.
Ronald Lam, CEO of the Cathay Group, said: "We are committed to investing in the long-term future of the Group and the Hong Kong international aviation hub, which is expected to grow exponentially with the operation of the Three-Runway system. These aircraft models have been serving Cathay Pacific and HK Express well, allowing us to strengthen the expansion of our Chinese Mainland and regional network for our customers."
Lam added: "As we strive towards achieving our vision of becoming one of the world's greatest service brands, we remain committed to continuously investing in our customer experience. These aircraft feature the latest technological enhancements to provide a quieter, more comfortable and more fuel-efficient journey for our customers."
Cathay Pacific has already received 13 of the 32 A321neos it ordered in 2017. This announcement will add 32 more single-aisle Airbus aircraft to its fleet.
The Current Cathay Fleet
Currently, Cathay Pacific's Airbus fleet consists of 12 A321neos, 42 A330-300s, 29 A350-900s, and 18 A350-1000s. The carrier's Boeing fleet has 17 777-300s and 39 777-300ERs, along with an order for 21 777-9 aircraft that are expected to be delivered starting in 2025.
Meanwhile, HK Express operates an all-Airbus fleet consisting of 5 A320-200s, 10 A320neos, 11 A321-200s, and one A321neo.
Cathay Pacific and HK Express serve a variety of destinations from their hub at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). Cathay Pacific offers nonstop flights to 81 destinations in 29 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. HK Express focuses on low-cost flights, offering service to 27 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is currently unknown how many aircraft will be A321neos compared to A320neos. Both aircraft are part of the Airbus A320neo family.
In addition, details have not yet been provided on how many of these aircraft will be used by Cathay Pacific compared to HK Express. The order will likely be evenly split, based on a previous A321neo order that involved 16 aircraft allocated to Cathay Pacific and 16 allocated to HK Express.
Cathay Pacific's fleet renewal plans come as the airline recovers from multiple problems Hong Kong has faced in recent years. The city has witnessed a reduction in international travel due to mass protests that took place in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening of Hong Kong's borders and the removal of travel restrictions late last year has opened the door to resuming business and leisure travel.
A Strong Return
As a result, Cathay Pacific recorded its strongest first six months of the year profit since 2010 in the first half of 2023. The airline saw a profit of HK$4.3 billion ($550.22 million) compared to a loss of HK$5 billion ($639.3 million) in the same time period last year. Cathay Pacific expects its recovery to hit 70% by the end of this year and 100% by the end of 2024.
Cathay Pacific sees the introduction of additional aircraft to its fleet as an essential component of its recovery. Now that travel is allowed without restrictions and the political environment has stabilized, the next few years are expected to be bright for the airline and Hong Kong's tourism industry.
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