Cathay Pacific Orders Six Airbus A350 Freighters

Cathay Pacific has snubbed Boeing and the 777-8F in favour of ordering six Airbus A350 Freighters as part of plans to cement itself as a leading air freight operator around the world.

Cathay Pacific has announced a long-awaited deal for the Airbus A350 Freighter.

A deal with the European plane maker is in the hopes of the Cathay Group strengthening its position as a leading freight operator.

Six A350Fs Ordered Plus More Options

A total of six Airbus A350 Freighters have been ordered under a firm deal with the European plane maker.

However, the group has noted that it has the right to acquire a further 20 units should it see the need to later down the line.

In line with Airbus’ certification plans and production of the yet-to-be-proven A350F, Cathay says delivery should commence from 2027.

The A350F is labelled as a state-of-the-art aircraft. Once delivered, it’s expected the type will strengthen Cathay’s Hong Kong operation further and look towards building as the number one air cargo provider.

The acquisition of the Airbus A350F also comes as Cathay relies heavily on the A350-900 and A350-1000 for its passenger operations, ensuring commonality across the group.

Airbus A350F vs Boeing 777-8F

In March 2023, Reuters reported that Cathay Pacific was closing in on a deal with Boeing for their newly launched 777-8F.

At the time, the expectation was that Boeing would lead the way in securing a deal Cathay says would replace its Boeing 747s.

If Cathay had struck a deal with Boeing, it would’ve ensured the company stayed with the American plane maker for freighter needs.

However, after reviewing the available options, Airbus was reported as the manufacturer leading the way for the contract from Cathay.

The Cathay Cargo Fleet

Cathay Pacific’s Cargo division currently operates exclusively with Boeing 747 Freighters.

Per the latest data, the group flies a total of 6 747-400Fs, with these averaging an age of 14.9 years.

However, the group also has 747-8 Freighrers at its disposal, with 14 active units averaging an age of 10.8 years.

As a result, the new deal struck with Airbus for six A350 Freighters would replace the ageing 747-400Fs.

The Next Generation Of Freighters

As part of the next-generation freighters, Airbus will put its A350F up against Boeing’s 777-8F, derived from the 777X.

These two aircraft have not been produced, operated on their first flight, or certified. However, they will compete for decades to come.

Thus far, the two types have acquired substantial interest from leading air freight operators. These companies are typically seeking to purchase the next-generation freighter for their fleet.

While similar, each aircraft offers customers something different, from the available range to the payload. Additionally, what deals customers can get on the said planes will play a part, too.

Airbus hopes that its A350F will be the solution required to see it compete with Boeing. This is in a market in which the American plane maker has maintained a stronghold for some time.

Daniel Fowkes
08 Dec 2023
· Aircraft 
· Freight 
· Uncategorized 

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