Cathay Dragon has announced plans to expand and replace its single aisle aircraft fleet with 32 Airbus A321neo. The airline has signed a memorandum of understanding with French aircraft manufacturer, Airbus to replace its existing fleet of 15 A320s and eight A321s. The aircraft should provide significant efficiency savings and a better passenger experience.
Explaining the decision, Cathay Dragon’s Chairman Rupert Hogg commented: “The intention to purchase these 32 environmentally-friendly aircraft will allow us to add new destinations to Cathay Dragon’s network. We also intend to increase frequencies on some of our most popular routes in order to provide our customers with more travel choices and convenience.”
Hogg went onto explain that whilst the airline group has seemingly only focused on improving sister company, Cathay Pacific’s fleet of long-haul aircraft, this move was being made to improve Cathay Dragon’s offering.
“Cathay Dragon is committed to providing customers with a superior travel experience while at the same time enhancing the efficiency of its operations,” said Hogg.
The A321 aircraft are the largest in the Airbus A320 family. They can accommodate a maximum of 240 passengers although we don’t yet know how Cathay plans to configure its fleet. The aircraft will offer an extended range of up to 7,400 km – longer than any other single aisle aircraft – and Cathay is promising its latest seats and entertainment options onboard. Airbus claims that the neo version offers a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 20% per seat.
If the order goes through, the airline should take delivery between 2020 and 2023. The fleet will be used to serve Cathay Dragon’s 56 destinations in Asia, including 28 cities in mainland China.
“The A321neo offers the lowest operating costs, longest range capability and most spacious cabin in its class. It will be the perfect aircraft for Cathay Dragon as it builds on its success as one of Asia’s leading regional carriers,” said John Leahy, Airbus COO.
The move by Cathay Pacific comes less than a week after the airline announced a massive loss in its half yearly results. In the first 6 months of the year, Cathay lost HK$ 2,051 million – an incredible -681.0% change on the year before. The airline has been battling increased competition in the region as well as high operating costs and poor fuel hedging decisions.
The airline recently announced a large redundancy scheme as part of a three-year plan to reduce costs and improve Cathay’s position. The group’s chairman claimed the airline should see improvements in the second half of 2017 and into 2018.
“Our commitment to Hong Kong and its people remains unwavering and we will continue to make strategic investments to develop and strengthen Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s largest international aviation hub,” commented John Slosar.