Cathay Pacific could benefit from the delayed delivery of its Boeing 777X aircraft. The Hong Kong-based carrier faces uncertainty with its financials and services amid the coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, the arrival of new aircraft could place a burden on the company while it puts temporary measures in place.
The highly-anticipated jet’s first global delivery was scheduled for summer 2020. However, this has now been pushed back until early 2021. While news such as this will usually frustrate operators, Cathay Pacific may be welcoming the delay.
The South China Morning Post reports that the airline is understood to be negotiating delays to the delivery of some of its incoming aircraft. Additionally, it looks to be benefiting from the slowed production of new planes such as the 777X and Airbus A321neo.
Currently, the airline has parked over half its fleet due to the coronavirus outbreak. An additionally 21 777X and 32 A321neo aircraft will be fed into its holdings once they are produced over the next few years.
The firm has also been in two minds about suspending its pilot training program. The airline has finally decided to continue with the course. However, it is taking decisive measures to help maintain wider operations.
Actions include putting a freeze on hiring, encouraging employees to take unpaid leave, prioritizing projects and deferring all non-critical spending.
Ultimately, if the virus continues to spread throughout the globe, the carrier may be forced to eventually make changes to its program.
It costs HK$1 million ($128,700) to train each cadet and they are not officially employees of the company until they graduate. If a suspension is put into place, then the carrier may not have enough new pilots to operate the expected plane arrivals.
Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a legislator and former Cathay Dragon pilot, gave his thoughts about his previous employer’s plans. He feels that if the airline is even considering to halt its pilot training program, it must be in a tight predicament.
“When Cathay Pacific looks at future expansion and the current situation, they see quite a negative outlook,” he said.
“It’s a big adjustment for its expansion. They have aircraft deliveries this year – so what are they going to do, delay?”
Altogether, it’s a catch-22 for the airline. At the moment it has a surplus of pilots due to several suspended operations across Asia. However, it will need more crew members for future operations once the outbreak is contained and the new aircraft joins its fleet. Therefore, the aircraft delays could give the company enough time to get its operations and staff in order.
Simple Flying reached out to Cathay Pacific for comment on the plans for its Boeing 777X aircraft. However, we did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.
How do you see the 777X fitting into Cathay Pacific’s plans? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.