Cathay Pacific In Advanced Negotiations To Defer Boeing 777X Order

Cathay Pacific Airways released its 2020 Annual Results today. While the financial figures make for grim reading, the flag carrier of Hong Kong affirmed once again that it is in serious talks with Boeing to defer its 777X deliveries.

Cathay Pacific 777X
Several of Cathay’s aircraft won’t restart regular operations again before they retire or are returned to lessors. Photo: Cathay Pacific

A series of delays

The airline has previously spoken about how keen it is to defer the highly-anticipated widebody. The first 777-9 was expected to arrive last summer, but this didn’t occur due to delays with the program.

Now, Cathay highlights that Boeing announced another delay of the 777X program earlier this year. This move means that the first aircraft of the type are presently expected to arrive at airlines in over two years.

“On 27th January 2021, Boeing announced a delay of the 777X program with delivery of the first aircraft expected in late 2023,” Cathay said in the report.

“Cathay Pacific is in advanced negotiations with regard to the deferral of its 777-9 deliveries.”

Boeing 777X livery launch logo
Airlines had been gearing up to receive the 777X until the industry issues over the last year.  Photo: Getty Images

Previous excitement

In December 2013, the airline shared that it would become the first 777X customer in Asia with an order for 21 777-9 units. The total order value was at over $7 billion at list prices at the time and the move was part of the carrier’s long-term long-haul fleet strategy. Notably, the airline made a huge commitment to modernize its fleet to provide a top-quality experience for its customers.

“The 777-9X promises us improved payload range capability and reduced operating costs, in addition to a significant reduction in environmental emissions,” said former Cathay Pacific CEO John Slosar, as per a 2013 press release.

“We think it will be an ideal fit for long-haul destinations in North America and Europe, in particular those routes where we carry high volumes of passengers and cargo each day.”

Today’s report didn’t mention when the deferral will be till. However, the carrier previously said that it would be until 2025 and beyond.

cathay pacific flights getty images
Amid long-term groundings, the airline transferred 92 passenger planes (44% of its passenger fleet) from Hong Kong to Alice Springs, Australia and Ciudad Real, Spain. Photo: Getty Images

A company-wide process

The airline did take delivery of 10 new planes last year, including its first A321neo. However, there were significant Airbus deferrals made overall. Cathay agreed with the manufacturer to defer its A350-900s and A350-1000s from 2020- 21 to 2020-23. It will also defer A321neos from 2020-23 to 2020-25

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The business is also in the middle of transferring specific planes from Cathay Dragon to the mainline and HK Express. This transition is a result of the group confirming in October that it would closing down its regional airline, impacting thousands of jobs.

Altogether, it’s not just Boeing that is being impacted by Cathay’s change of plans. The pandemic has caused a monumental shift across the whole industry and airline fleets.

What are your thoughts about Cathay Pacific being in advanced negotiations to defer its Boeing 777X order? Do you think the deferral is a good decision for the carrier amid the current conditions within the market? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.