Cathay Pacific is reportedly assessing options from Airbus and Boeing as it looks towards growing its widebody fleet, focusing on more mid-sized aircraft types.
The reports from Bloomberg earlier in the week indicate the carrier is in communication with Airbus and Boeing for the order; however, it’s still in the early stages.
Cathay Pacific is now looking to proceed with a formal order for a new mid-sized widebody. The Group has been targeting such a move since late 2022.
Aircraft Options For Cathay Pacific
The airline is targeting a mid-sized widebody with the intention of deployment across various day-to-day operations.
Cathay Pacific wants the addition of this new aircraft to massively elevate not just its passenger operations but also its cargo business.
In the mid-size widebody market, several options are available to Cathay Pacific for an eventual order. Per current speculation and opinions from analysts and onlookers, the A330neo and 787 are believed to be the ideal options to fulfil this order.
The airline already flies the Airbus A350 quite extensively, with commitments to both currently produced variants, the -900 and the -1000. However, for what Cathay Pacific is looking for in a mid-sized widebody, the A350 could be deemed as too large for their requirements.
Therefore, notably missing from the Group’s current operation are the A330neo and 787. These two aircraft types are considered competitors, and the types will likely be pitched to Cathay Pacific by the respective planer makers.
The A330neo has struggled significantly to acquire large purchases from airlines in recent history, and following the Request for Proposals, the aircraft manufacturer will no doubt be attempting to pitch this aircraft type alongside the A350 further.
Analysing The Fleet
Cathay Pacific’s fleet now consists of 156 in-service aircraft, with 22 types still listed as parked or in storage, per data from planespotters.net.
As demand has returned and restrictions have eased around Hong Kong, the reintroduction of aircraft has allowed the active fleet number to grow continuously across the last 12 months.
Interestingly, when analysing the current mid-size aircraft that are operational at the airline, the Airbus A330 series certainly stands true as an example.
Cathay Pacific flies 36 A330-300s listed as in-service. However, the 6 parked units bring the total to 42. The A330 series has an average age of 15.2 years, which shows it’s not getting younger.
The likelihood that the Airbus A330-300s are the aircraft type Cathay Pacific will look to replace with this upcoming commitment is high. As a result, the airline needs an aircraft type that can complete similar missions but is also versatile enough to work adequately in its future fleet.
Cathay Pacific’s future fleet is already taking shape with the incoming arrival of the Boeing 777X once certification occurs and solid commitments for the A320neo family aircraft.
This order book, which includes the A350 Freighter for Cathay Cargo operations, has continued to grow and could 2024 get another significant boost depending on how the RFPs go.