Half of Cathay Dragon’s existing order for 32 Airbus A321neo aircraft will go to sister company HK Express, as Cathay Pacific group, the parent company of both airlines, announces a fleet optimization plan. 

Cathay Pacific Airways finalized an order with Airbus for 32 A321neo single-aisle aircraft in September 2017. Back then, the aircraft were intended for Cathay Dragon, the regional operator of the group, which links its Hong Kong home base with destinations across Asia. 

On November 8, 2019, Cathay Pacific group announced that Cathay Dragon will operate only half of the order, deliveries pending from 2020 to 2022. The other 16 Airbus A321neo aircraft will now go HK Express fleet, deliveries starting from 2022. 

The decision to reallocate planes on order came after a “comprehensive review of its airlines’ fleets”, according to a statement by the group. “We have four airlines in the group, each of them has its clear proposition,” Augustus Tang, Cathay Pacific Group Chief Executive Officer, is cited in the statement.

“Cathay Pacific will continue to operate as an international full-service airline providing premium services to customers while Cathay Dragon is our regional full-service carrier,” according to Tang. “Meanwhile, HK Express will remain as a standalone, low-cost airline focusing on serving leisure travel destinations. AHK Air Hong Kong will continue to be the Group’s all-cargo carrier specializing in express cargo services”.

Both HK Express and Cathay Dragon are all-Airbus operators. HK Express operates a fleet of 24 aircraft, composed of Airbus A320 and A321 variants, planespotters.net data shows. Cathay Dragon flies a fleet twice the size. Among its 49 planes, there are Airbus A320, A321 and A330 variants. 

In total, Cathay Pacific group is expecting to receive 65 new aircraft by 2024. The existing orders include 21 Boeing 777X (-9 variant), 12 Airbus A350 and the aforementioned 32 Airbus A321neo on order.