Cathay Pacific Airways today announced that its fleet will exceed 100 aircraft after committing to eight used Boeing 747-400s, half of which will be converted into freighters. The aircraft will be obtained from a number of owners and operators and arrive from now through 2006. The airline plans to purchase seven and lease one other.
This acquisition follows orders made earlier this year for one new B747-400 freighter plus two new B777-300 and six new Airbus 330-300s to join the airline’s regional fleet. These combined commitments will swell the airline’s operating fleet from 86 all-wide-body aircraft at present to 103 in just over three years, after the final A330-300s arrive. This additional investment will add to the approximate 20 percent increase in passenger capacity made by the airline in the past two years.
Six of the eight aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney 4056-3 engines and the other two by the Rolls-Royce RB211-524. All the aircraft are of a similar age to the B747-400s already in operation with the airline. Cathay Pacific currently operates 19 B747-400 passenger and 5 B747-400 freighter aircraft.
Four of the newly acquired aircraft will support the expansion of Cathay Pacific’s passenger fleet, following a complete retrofit so that the aircraft and cabin meet the same standards as existing Cathay Pacific aircraft. The other four will be converted into freighters and deployed on trunk routes to Europe and North America.
In January this year, Cathay Pacific announced it would be the world’s first airline to take part in the new B747-400 passenger-to-freighter conversion programme, and has so far committed to convert six aircraft with options on six more.
Cathay Pacific Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive David Turnbull said: “Passing the 100 aircraft mark is a tremendous milestone in the development of Cathay Pacific and further underlines our commitment to strengthen Hong Kong as a global passenger and air cargo hub. This latest acquisition, along with our order for nine new aircraft made earlier in the year, represents one of the fastest programmes of fleet growth in the airline’s history.”