On May 21st, 1998, Cathay Pacific received its first-ever Boeing 777-300 aircraft. This original arrival is still flying high with the Hong Kong-based carrier. Additionally, it is just one of 75 units of the plane type that the company has operated over the last 22 years.
According to Cathay’s website, the operator was one of eight airlines to provide input for the model at its design stage. This move gave the firm the chance to customize the plane’s features to its taste.
One of the specifications was a cabin cross-section similar to the historic 747. Furthermore, Cathay wanted capacity for at least 325 passengers, a modern ‘glass’ cockpit, and lower operating costs. Subsequently, 777’s twin engines provided a 33 percent saving in fuel when compared against early 747s. Moreover, there were also costs reduced when it came to maintenance.
The airline has gone on to form a strong partnership with the 777. It has performed flights with three different variants. The first version to hit the air was the 777-300, which was the world’s longest aircraft when it was introduced.
In 2007, the carrier also started to operate the 777-300ER, with its debut flight being a service to Seoul. It also conducted flights with the original prototype 777-200, the B-HNL, before it was retired in 2018. Additionally, it entirely ceased operations with its 777-200s last year.
The pioneering 777-300, registered B-HNH, was handed over to Cathay at Boeing Field in Seattle. Two days later, it was flown home to Hong Kong, with 39 passengers on board. Travelers included members of the press and former Cathay chairman Peter Sutch. The aircraft soon performed its inaugural commercial flight on June 1st, which was a service to Osaka.
According to a press release, during the milestone 70th 777 delivery to the carrier in 2015, former Cathay Pacific CEO Ivan Chu shared his admiration for the plane. He explained how valuable it is during operations across the continents.
“The 777s have played an important role in Cathay Pacific’s fleet modernization and network expansion strategy,” Chu said.
“We operate the largest 777 fleet in Asia, and these aircraft offer the range, reliability and flexibility to build multiple daily frequencies on trunk routes, both within the Asia-Pacific region and, with the 777-300ERs, on long-haul and ultra-long-haul routes.”
Still going strong
Today, 68 of these units are still within the company’s holdings. According to Planespotters.net, the type leads the airline’s fleet, alongside 36 Airbus A350s, 28 A330s, and 20 747s.
It uses the plane on operations to destinations across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. Lately, the firm is considering selling some of its 777 units to raise funds amid the current aviation industry crisis. Nonetheless, the type will continue to be an integral member of Cathay’s family.
What are your thoughts on Cathay Pacific’s history with the Boeing 777? Have you had a chance to fly on the aircraft over the last 22 years? Let us know what you think in the comment.