All of Cathay Pacific's five daily flights between Hong Kong and London will shift to the airline's flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft this week with the retirement of another Boeing 747 jumbo from the CX fleet.
The modern and fuel-efficient Boeing 777s include Cathay's revamped first class suites (shown below) along with its award-winning business class, premium economy and new international economy seats – making this a tip-to-tail upgrade for travellers on the popular route.
The new first class cabin will be fitted to all 24 of Cathay’s long-range Boeing 777-300ER airliners by the third quarter of 2014.
December 31st will see the last flight of a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 on the Hong Kong-London trek before that jumbo is put out to pasture in the new year.
This will be the eighth Boeing 747 to leave Cathay's fleet since 2012, with 13 more to be progressively retired through this decade.
So what happens to Cathay Pacific's second-hand 747s? Don’t go looking for them on eBay.
“We are always looking for opportunities to sell the retired aircraft as a whole or for parts” a Cathay Pacific spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller.
Boeing sometimes buys them back, and earlier this year inked a deal with Cathay to purchase four Boeing 747-400s to be converted into freighters.
Cathay bets big on the 'big twins'
And what's in line to replace the jumbo jet? Don’t expect Cathay Pacific to place an order for the Airbus A380 or Boeing's 747-8 Intercontinental any time soon.
"The 'big twins' have definitely been very very successful for us" says Toby Smith, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager, Product, referring to large twin-engined jets like the Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330.
Cathay Pacific already holds orders for more 'big twins', with 21 of the next-gen 400 seat Boeing 777-9X due for delivery sometime after 2020, along with the Airbus A350-900 from 2016 and the stretched A350-1000 from 2018.
When it comes to double-deck jets like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8I "nothing is excluded" Smith tells Australian Business Traveller. "It's more a question of whether or not on selected routes there’s a need for a double decker."
“For example, we now have four flights a day to Sydney. Would we go to five? Well actually we haven’t got any more rights – that’s still being looked at – so potentially that could be one market where you might see them, but it’s not on the horizon.”
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