Cathay Pacific Group has just announced its intention to double its Airbus A321neo order. That’s pretty significant, when you consider that Cathay Pacific didn’t even have any narrow body jets a few years ago…
Cathay Pacific orders 32 more Airbus A321neos
The Cathay Pacific Group has stated its intention to purchase up to 32 Airbus A321neo and A320neo aircraft, as it continues to invest in expanding and modernizing its fleet, and growing flight connectivity at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
These additional aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2029, and will join the fleets of both Cathay Pacific and HK Express, primarily serving destinations in mainland China, and elsewhere in Asia. It’s not entirely clear how many of those “up to” 32 aircraft are firm orders rather than options, and it’s also not yet clear what the split is between the A321neo and A320neo.
For context, the Cathay Pacific Group already had 32 Airbus A321neos on order prior to this, meaning that the fleet is potentially being doubled in the coming years.
Here’s how Cathay Pacific CEO Ronald Lam describes this order:
“We are committed to investing in the long-term future of the Group and the Hong Kong international aviation hub, which is expected to grow exponentially with the operation of the Three-Runway System. These aircraft models have been serving Cathay Pacific and HK Express well, allowing us to strengthen the expansion of our Chinese Mainland and regional network for our customers.”
“As we strive towards achieving our vision of becoming one of the world’s greatest service brands, we remain committed to continuously investing in our customer experience. These aircraft feature the latest technological enhancements to provide a quieter, more comfortable and more fuel-efficient journey for our customers.”
How will this order likely be split?
Historically Cathay Pacific exclusively operated wide body aircraft, but two things have changed in recent years:
- Within the past few years, Cathay Dragon was integrated into Cathay Pacific, and Airbus A321neos had been ordered for Cathay Dragon; Cathay Dragon was a wholly owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific that primarily focused on mainland China operations, but maintaining a separate business unit just didn’t prove efficient in the end
- Cathay Pacific acquired HK Express, a low cost carrier based in Hong Kong, in order to expand its product offerings; HK Express exclusively flies narrow body Airbus jets
Of the initial 32 Airbus A321neos that were ordered, 16 are going to Cathay Pacific, while 16 are going to HK Express. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar split for the additional order that’s now being placed. Cathay Pacific is in a good position in that regard, as the airline can order these planes now, and later decide which carrier to allocate the planes to, based on market conditions.
In addition to flying Airbus A320neos and A321neos, HK Express also has five A320s and 11 A321s (the non-neo version). I have to imagine those planes will eventually be replaced, and therefore presumably at least half of these planes will go to HK Express, if not more.
I’d also assume that any A320neo orders would go to HK Express, and not Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific Group is placing a significant additional order with Airbus, for up to 32 Airbus A321neo and A320neo aircraft. These will be used to grow the fleets of both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon through 2029.
Now we just need to wait for further details of the order, including the split between planes, and how many orders are firm vs. options.
What do you make of this A321neo order from Cathay Pacific?