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Cathay Pacific first to Auckland with the A350

New Zealanders turn out in force to watch Flight CX197 fly over Waitematā Harbour

Cathay Pacific has become the first international airline to operate the state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 to New Zealand as Flight CX197 arrived in Auckland today (Friday, 28 October) after making its overnight journey from Hong Kong.

Prior to landing at Auckland International Airport, the flight, which was under the command of Cathay Pacific Chief Pilot Airbus Gavin Haslemore and his fellow Kiwi, Senior Captain Colin Davis, flew over the city’s Waitematā Harbour, giving many New Zealanders their first look at the world’s most modern commercial aircraft.

The environmentally-friendly A350 is equipped with the airline's latest cabin products, an enhanced inflight entertainment system and Wi-Fi connectivity in all classes, enriching the experience of passengers and helping Cathay Pacific to deliver on its promise of a "Life Well Travelled". 

Cathay Pacific, which has been serving New Zealand for 33 years, has five A350s in operation, and by the end of next year will have taken delivery of a total of 22. The aircraft, which will form the backbone of the airline's mid-size long-haul fleet, replaces the Airbus A340-300 on the Auckland route.

Prior to the aircraft's return departure to Hong Kong today – operating as Flight CX198 – Cathay Pacific Director Sales & Marketing Dane Cheng met with New Zealand's Minister of Transport, the Honourable Simon Bridges, and other guests from the Auckland Airport community to celebrate the historic milestone in front of a large media gathering.

Mr Cheng said: "New Zealand has long been an important market for our airline, so it gives us all at Cathay Pacific great pleasure that we'll now be serving this magnificent country with our innovative A350. This special aircraft takes our passenger experience to a whole new level and I believe it will be a game-changer for travellers from New Zealand heading to Hong Kong and beyond."

Auckland becomes the third long-haul destination on Cathay's expansive global network to welcome the A350, after Düsseldorf and Gatwick. The aircraft will be deployed on routes to Rome and Paris in the months ahead, followed by Vancouver and Tel Aviv in March next year. 

Cathay Pacific commenced operations to Auckland in 1983 with a weekly service operated by a Boeing 747-200 aircraft. A daily service was launched in 1998 using the Airbus A340-300, while 2010 saw the airline introduce a second daily flight during the New Zealand peak summer period. Since 2013, Cathay Pacific has been able to offer up to three flights between Hong Kong and Auckland per day.