Cathay Pacific Weighs Up Options To Replace 747s

LONDON – Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay pacific has said that it is in talks with both Boeing and Airbus as it looks to find a solution to fix its ageing cargo fleet.

New Cargo Options

Cathay in particular are looking at options with the Airbus A350 freighter and Boeing’s 777-8F, it is understood this was mentioned in a report to BNN Bloomberg, where the person elected to remain anonymous, saying that the decision the airline would make is private, however, they did add that there could be an order for up to 6 of one of these new aircraft coming soon.

Cathay said in a statement that it is “constantly looking into our freighter fleet requirements” but has “not come to any decision whatsoever,”. Aviation Source reached out to Airbus to comment on this matter, however, at the time of writing this article no comment was given on the potential rumour or a new customer or order was given.

It is understood that an order of 6 new jets is likely to come soon as the carrier looks to replace their Boeing 747-400 Extended range freighters, which now have an average age of around 14 years, this was highlighted in the company’s annual 2021 report.

Why Does Cathay Need New Planes?

It can come down to multiple reasons for the decision to switch to the newer cargo jets, one of the major ones being how the cargo industry is now going.

While it exceeded all expectations of demand and growth during COVID-19, many air freighter companies such as FedEx are now cutting back on their fleets and staff as the world market fell short 500 million dollars of its predicted and expected growth.

Not to mention the fact that Boeing also has now cancelled the production of the 747, which means as these planes continue to age, the cost of parts and maintenance will slowly increase.

Which plane they should go for however is something which is hard to gauge at this time. While both being and Airbus have seen relative success with the announcement of their new freighter variants, both aircraft are still a while off before they even begin flight testing, with Boeing in a more precarious situation in needing to get their 777X certified for commercial flight first before they can even entertain the idea of the freighter variant.

Rival Carriers Make Their Stance

One thing to consider in the whole debate is that Qatar Airways a multi-award-winning airline decided to go with Boeings 777X-F for its future cargo fleet ordering 34 of the type, as it continues to argue with airbus over the condition of the heat sync and paint degradation on their A350s.

On the other side of this, we have Singapore Airlines, which back in February signed a deal with Airbus and DHL to operate seven A350 Freighters, which really going Airbus off to a relatively good start to its first dedicated freighter aircraft in over 10 years.

Whatever the decision that is made by the airline, it is likely that it will be made in the coming months as Cathay will not want to be stuck in a large backlog of orders while continuing to operate their 747-400’s which will be getting more expensive to run as they get older each year.

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Tomos Howells - Chief Executive Officer 4 Min Read
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