Cathay Pacific and Boeing have agreed on terms for 21 777-9 aircraft, with Cathay becoming the first Asian customer for the type. This order was rumored in the industry prior to the Dubai Air Show, but delayed as terms of the deal were finalized between the parties. At list prices, the transaction is valued at more than $7 billion. Deliveries are scheduled from 2021 to 2024.
John Slosar, CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways, said “the 777-9X promises us improved payload range capability and reduced operating costs, in addition to a significant reduction in environmental emissions. We think it will be an ideal fit for long-haul destinations in North America and Europe, in particular those routes where we carry high volumes of passengers and cargo each day. Cathay Pacific is committed to modernizing its fleet to provide a superior experience to passengers.
A 777-300ER operator today, Cathay Pacific configures its aircraft with 9 abreast in economy. The 777-9X has a 10 abreast configuration in economy as standard, but the decision remains with the customer. It is unclear whether Cathay Pacific will configure the new aircraft in the same manner as its existing, and popular, 777-300ER fleet, as an interior upgrade is expected as new aircraft come on line.
Interestingly, Cathay Pacific is also a key customer for the competing Airbus A350, with orders for 22 A350-900 and 26 A350-1000 models, with deliveries beginning in 2018. Cathay will be one of the first operators of both competing types. Cathay has an aggressive strategy to replace older A340s, 747-400s, 777-200s and -300s. It will be interesting to watch how the new aircraft interiors will be configured, the routes on which they are used, and their relative profitability in service.