Cathay Pacific still expects its first 777-9s in 2025 as recovery continues

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific remains optimistic that its first of 22 Boeing 777-9s it has on order will be delivered in 2025 despite the type still awaiting certification. The first two of the ultra-long-haul widebodies are due to enter service with the Hong-based carrier towards the middle of 2025 should the certification program proceed without further delays.

The announcement regarding the introduction of the 777-9 came as the company presented its 2023 full-year results, in which it announced it had returned to profitability for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline reported a net profit of HKD9.8 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.25 billion) for the calendar year 2023. The result marks the carrier’s best performance since 2010 and contrasts hugely against the result for 2022 which saw the airline lose HKD6.6 billion ($840 million).

By the end of 2023, Cathay’s passenger operations were back to 70% of pre-pandemic levels, and cargo operations were at 85% of pre-pandemic capacity.

In addition to the 22 Boeing 777-9s on order, Cathay also expects to take delivery of another four A321-200NX during 2024. At the end of 2023, the airline’s fleet consisted of 181 aircraft, of which 137 were owned, 24 were on finance leases, and 20 were on operating leases. The fleet comprises two A321-200s, 12 A321-200NXs, 43 A330-300s,  30 A350-900s, 18 A350-1000s, 17 777-300s and 39 777-300ERs. Additionally, the carrier’s dedicated cargo division operates 18 747 freighters.

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As the company looks forward to the future, it is focussing its attention on its outstanding order book and when it expects to induct further aircraft into its fleet. In 2023, the carrier ordered a further 32 A320/A321neos with options on another 32 airframes. These aircraft are in addition to an existing order for 32 A321neos. The company also awaiting the arrival of six A350Fs it ordered in 2023. It also has orders for 19 B777-9s.

In a statement, CEO Ronald Lam said the airline has been focussing on rebuilding and investing throughout 2023.

“In total, this brings our new aircraft on order to more than 70, with the right to acquire an additional 52,” Lam said. “We are also exploring options for a new mid-size widebody aircraft.”

For 2024, the carrier intends to return three B777-300ERs to lessors, while two A330-300s and two B777-300ERs will be handed back in 2025. In 2026, two A330-300s and four B777-300ERs will leave the fleet, while the leases on a pair of A350-900s expire in 2028. 

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