Cathay Dragon To Launch New A321neo Business Class In October

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Hong Kong-based Cathay Dragon is expected to debut its first Airbus A321neo in October, with the shiny new jet sporting all-new business class seats. Other than the news that the first of its four new A321neos will arrive after the summer, Cathay Dragon has not announced which routes these planes will be deployed on first.

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Cathay Dragon will receive 15 Airbus A321neos. Photo: Airbus

Presumably, this is dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic and rules regarding foreign travel relating to closed borders and quarantine requirements. When speaking to Executive Traveller about the new plane, Cathay Pacific Group Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer, Greg Hughes, said,

“At this point in time, we expect two deliveries to occur, roughly in October-November of this year.”

When Executive Traveller asked him where he expected the jets to be deployed, Hughes said it very much depends on what is happening with the coronavirus and passenger demand.

“The entry into service and the routes onto which those aircraft will be deployed really depends on the recovery, and how that develops over the coming months, so we don’t yet have a firm plan on that.” 

Cathay Dragon will get 15 Airbus A321neos

Of the 32 Airbus A321neos that parent company Cathay Pacific has ordered from Airbus, 16 will go to Cathay Dragon. The other 16 will be delivered to HK Express, a low-cost Hong Kong-based carrier that Cathay Pacific purchased from the HNA Group in 2019 for $915 million. At the time of the purchase, Cathay Pacific said it would use its new airline to focus on leisure destinations.

The new planes will have 12 business class seats

From what we can gather, Cathay Dragon’s A321neos will have 12 seats in business class arranged two either side of the aisle in three rows. What is telling about this is that while the seats will be a fresh new design, Cathay Dragon will continue its policy of recliners rather than lie-flat beds. This is in contrast to rival regional carrier Singapore Airlines-owned Silk Air’s approach of business class seats that can be made into beds.

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During the coronavirus crisis, Cathay Dragon has been using its A330s to deliver cargo. Photo: Cathay Dragon

This tactic seems to be in keeping with Cathay Pacific’s Head of Customer Experience & Design Vivian Lo’s notion that flights of two, four, or six hours do not require the luxury of a lie-flat seat.

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The seats will not lie-flat

Despite the lack of a bed, Lo was eager to point out that the new business class seats were a next-generation product for Cathay Dragon. When comparing the single-aisle plane to the Airbus, A350, Lo said,

“The A321neo is a very modern aircraft, with a lot of the technology that our customers love in a narrowbody environment.”

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Cathay Dragons old business class seats. Photo: Cathay Pacific

In economy, passengers will find 190 seats in a conventional 3-3 layout giving Cathay Dragons’ A321neos a total of 202 seats. This is 30 more seats than Cathay Dragons’ A321ceos, which the new planes will replace.

As we have said numerous times, the Airbus A321neo can be a gamechanger by giving airlines a lower per-seat cost than older, less efficient planes.

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What do you think about Cathay Dragons’ decision not to have lie-flat seats in its new A321neos? Please let us know your opinion in the comments. 

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