While announcing the closing down of its regional brand Cathay Dragon on Wednesday, Cathay Pacific said that talks with Boeing for the deferral of its 777X had now been concluded. The new flagship aircraft, meant to feature the carrier’s new first class suites, will not join the fleet until “2025 and beyond.”
Cathay Pacific is currently undergoing a massive recalibration to see it through the prolonged crisis. Earlier today, it was confirmed that this would entail the closing down of its regional airline, Cathay Dragon. Moreover, the carrier has now concluded talks with Boeing to defer delivery of the new flagship 777X to “beyond 2025.”
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Not canceled, merely postponed
Cathay Pacific has 21 of the larger 777-9 on order. The aircraft were originally scheduled for delivery from 2021 through 2024. Following delays to the 777X program, Boeing pushed back the start date a year to 2022. However, due to the prolonged effects of the ongoing global health crisis, Cathay initiated talks with the manufacturer in August to defer delivery further.
According to Reuters, Sean Healy, Chairman of Cathay Pacific Group, told reporters on Wednesday that while the airline is not canceling its 777-9 order, their delivery has been postponed until beyond 2025. This means that the carrier is also postponing its new first class suites and business class seats, which were meant to debut on the 777-9s.
New narrowbody additions with A321neos
This does not mean, however, that Cathay will take no new jets before then. Some of the 16 A321neos ordered for Cathay Dragon will instead go to previously all-widebody Cathay Pacific, while some will join the regional carrier Cathay is choosing to keep, HK Express. Two of them are slated for delivery within the next couple of months. Four more will arrive in 2021, and the rest in 2022 and “beyond.”
More than diversifying the long-haul specialist’s fleet, they will feature the group’s new regional business seats. Those who have been expecting an upgrade in Cathay premium comfort have that to look forward to, at least.
Cathay also has an order for 12 A350 widebodies from Airbus. Six of the aircraft are A350-900s, and six are the longer version, A350-1000s. Initially slated to join the fleet from 2020 to 2021, an agreement has been reached to push them back another couple of years.
September passenger figures down 98%
Cathay Pacific has been incredibly hard hit by the effects of the pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions. Already struggling following the civil unrest in Hong Kong in the fall of 2019, it never got a chance to get its nose back up above water before 2020 and the worst crisis in the history of commercial aviation happened.
Just as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific does not operate on a domestic market. In September, the airlines carried a total of 47,061 passengers, 98% less than in the same month last year.