Cathay Pacific Could Swap Boeing 777X Order For The 787-10

Recent reports suggest that Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific could be swapping Boeing 777X orders for the Boeing 787-10. The story comes as Cathay Pacific continues to suffer from low traffic figures, which may be remain for quite some time.

Cathay Pacific, Boeing 777X, Boeing 787-10
Cathay Pacific has 21 Boeing 777-9 aircraft on order. Photo: Boeing

Cathay Pacific was one of the first airlines to place orders for the Boeing 777X. The airline has an order for 21 of the 777-9. However, while the first of the 777Xs was initially due to be delivered this summer, the program faced delays only taking its first flight this January.

Additionally, the aviation industry as a whole is currently facing its greatest crisis as traffic around the globe has tanked. Many airlines are presently planning for demand to take years to recover. Cathay Pacific was already feeling a hit from the Hong Kong protests before the current situation.

Order modification?

According to the South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) Danny Lee, unnamed people familiar with the matter have said that Cathay Pacific is considering modifying its 777X order. Lee mentioned that options being studied include delivery delays, in addition to swapping 777Xs to the Boeing 787-10.

However, he added that the unnamed sources say that the airline is yet to approach Boeing regarding this order. Both Cathay Pacific and Boeing told the SCMP that they don’t comment on speculation.

Cathay Pacific, Crew, US Bases
Cathay Pacific already operates several classic Boeing 777 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

A tough year for Cathay

It’s been a tough year for Cathay Pacific. Initially, the carrier suffered from a localized drop in demand due to a series of protests in the city. The protests dissuaded passengers from traveling to Hong Kong. While this only affected one or two routes for most carriers, Cathay Pacific felt it on most of its routes.

However, just when it looked like things may be beginning to improve, the world of aviation was dealt another blow in the form of the current crisis. As such, it would be understandable if the carrier wished to defer or reduce its financial commitments with regards to new aircraft.

Boeing 787-10 vs. 777-9

There are several vast differences between the Boeing 777-9, and the Boeing 787-10. Arguably the most important is that the 787-10 is already flying in commercial service. Additionally, the 787-10 is a newer design, while the 777-9 is based on the company’s other 777 aircraft.

Cathay Pacific, Boeing 777X, Boeing 787-10
The Boeing 787-10 is already in operation with several airlines around the globe. Photo: Boing

According to Boeing, the 777-9 seats 426 passengers in a two-cabin configuration. Meanwhile, the 787-10 carries 336 in a similar arrangement. This also gives the benefit that aircraft will be easier to fill if demand takes a long time to recover. Of course, there is a significant lead time on most aircraft orders.

Finally, the SCMP points out that there is also a significant difference in cost between the two aircraft. While a single 777-9 has a current list price of $442.2 million, the 787-10 costs just three-quarters of this at $338.4 million.

What do you think? Should Cathay Pacific continue down the 777X route or swap for the 787-10? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!