Cathay Pacific plans to launch its new regional business class seat in early 2020, alongside the debut of new Airbus A321neo jets for regional arm Cathay Dragon.
32 single-aisle Airbus A321neo aircraft will replace 23 smaller A320s in the Cathay Dragon fleet between 2020 and 2023, delivering increased capacity on key routes such as Shanghai and Beijing as well as opening up new destinations.
A spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific confirmed the timetable to Australian Business Traveller, with the new seats kicking off a renewal which will the following year see Cathay reveal its next generation long-range first class and business class on board the Boeing 777-9.
The A321neo jets will have around 200 seats from tip to tail, but travellers shouldn't expect to be able to go flat out at the pointy end.
To date, the airline has indicated that the 2020 regional business class seats will retain the same 'deep recline' design as the current product (seen below), rather than transform into a fully lie-flat bed, reflecting an average regional flight duration of 2-3 hours.
However, this would invite stark contrast with Asian competitor Singapore Airlines, which will roll out flat beds across its own regional fleet from mid-2020.
This will come as regional arm SilkAir is folded into it's parent superbrand and fits newly-delivered Boeing 737 jets with a flatbed business class in the form of Thompson Aero's popular Vantage design.
While the Vantage lacks direct aisle access for every passenger, it does offer a handful of 'throne' seats for solo flyers.
Combined with the arrival of more Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-10s for Singapore Airlines' medium- and long-range fleet, and the retirement of older Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 jets with 'sloping sleepers' in business class, “we’ll have lie-fiat business class even on the shortest flights, even on the narrow-bodies!” declares Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.