The Hong Kong flag-carrier Cathay Pacific may shrink its Boeing 777X aircraft order, a move that would help the cash-strapped airline cut billions of costs. 

Cathay Pacific would downsize its Boeing 777-9X aircraft order from 21 aircraft to between 10 and 15 airplanes. The decision comes as the ongoing pandemic induces a rethink on the commercial aircraft orders and cost cutting means, the South China Morning Post reported on April 25, 2021, citing insider sources. 

However, in a statement to AeroTime News, Cathay Pacific spokesperson noted that the airline was in “advanced negotiations” to defer its 21 Boeing 777X aircraft order without mentioning plans of downsizing it. 

“As mentioned previously, Cathay Pacific is in advanced negotiations with Boeing to reschedule its 21-aircraft 777-9 order to 2025 and beyond,” Cathay Pacific spokesperson wrote in a statement to AeroTime News on April 26, 2021. 

Cathay Pacific has ordered 21 Boeing 777-9X aircraft from the American aircraft giant in December 2013, becoming Asia's first 777X customer. The new Boeing 777-9X aircraft, worth HK$58 billion ($7.4 billion), were scheduled to arrive between 2021 and 2024. However, on January 27, 2021, Boeing announced a delay of the Boeing 777X airplane programme pushing the delivery date of the first aircraft to 2023. 

The 777X is Boeing’s newest family of wide-body airplanes that is built on the 777-300ER that is already deployed extensively around the Cathay Pacific network. The Cathay-ordered 777-9X is a larger twin-engine jet that will have both a larger payload than other twin-engine aircraft and reduced fuel consumption and lower operating costs.

The yet-to-be-certified 777-9X is designed to seat approximately 400 passengers. However, the seating may vary according to each airline’s configuration preferences. The Boeing 777-9X has an operating range of 7,285 nautical miles (13,500 km), which according to Cathay Pacific, would suit “particularly” well for the ultra-long-haul focused Hong Kong flag-carrier. 

Currently, Cathay Pacific has a total of 172 aircraft in its fleet, as per the Planespotters.net data. The largest part of the airline’s fleet consists of the Boeing 777 aircraft family, with 48 Boeing 777-300ERs and 17 Boeing 777-300s, as well as Airbus A350XWB aircraft family with 14 Airbus A350-1000s and 27 A350-900s. 

However, on March 10, 2021, Cathay Pacific announced that it had moved 46% (92 aircraft) of its fleet for long-term storage in Alice Springs in Australia and Ciudad Real in Spain due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Cathay Pacific Group moved 92 jets for long-term storage in Australia and Spain.