Cathay Pacific is boosting passenger and cargo capacity between Brisbane and Hong Kong with the use of the Airbus A350-900 in early 2017, announcing on Monday it would deploy the aircraft on its daily CX156/CX157 rotation between Brisbane and Hong Kong, with flights starting at the end of March.
It will be the first airline to use the next generation Airbus twin to Brisbane.
Currently, all of Cathay’s 11 flights a week to Brisbane are operated with Airbus A330-300s configured with 251 seats comprising 39 in business, 21 in premium economy and 191 in economy.
By contrast, the A350-900s have 280 seats (38 business, 28 premium economy and 214 economy) and feature the airline’s latest cabin products such as on-board wifi, new premium economy seat and refreshed business and economy seats. In particular, the aircraft features Cathay’s innovative “six-way” headrest designed to make it easier for passengers to sleep.
The upgauge of aircraft type on seven of Cathay’s 11 weekly flights represented a 12 per cent increase in available seats to Brisbane, as well as additional cargo capacity.
Cathay general manager for Southwest Pacific Nelson Chin said passengers would notice the difference travelling on the latest generation A350.
“As a larger aircraft, the A350 also enables us to bring more passengers into Brisbane and take Queenslanders seamlessly to more than 170 destinations around the world,” Chin said in a statement.
“With 11 flights a week, we have become a firm favourite for many Queenslanders heading overseas, as well as bringing business people and tourists alike into the Sunshine State.”
Flight CX156 is an overnight flight from Brisbane that lands in Hong Kong in the morning. Meanwhile, CX157 is a lunchtime departure from Hong Kong that arrives in Brisbane a little after 2300.
Monday’s announcement followed confirmation Cathay would deploy the A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER to Melbourne from February and March 2017.
Cathay, which picked up its first A350-900 in May, has 22 of the type on order due to be delivered between now and the end of 2017. It has also signed for 26 of the larger A350-1000, which were due to arrive between 2018-2020.
In addition to some regional routes, the A350-900 operates long-haul services from Hong Kong to Auckland, Dusseldorf and London Gatwick, with Paris and Rome to receive the aircraft by the end of 2016, according to the June 2016 edition of Cathay’s staff magazine CXWorld.
The use of larger aircraft follows a similar move in Sydney, where two of Cathay’s four daily flights are now operated with 777-300ERs.
Cathay has utilised all available traffic rights for Hong Kong carriers to Australia’s four major international gateways of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, which currently sits at 70 flights a week. As a result, the only way to add capacity is to upgauge to larger equipment.
The decision to add extra capacity to Brisbane and Melbourne also comes as Virgin Australia prepares to mount flights to Hong Kong and Beijing from a yet-to-be-disclosed Australian city from June 2017 in partnership with HNA Group.
Brisbane Airport chief executive Julieanne Alroe welcomed the first A350 service to Brisbane, which would represent an additional 10,000 seats per year on the Hong Kong route.
“This aircraft is the latest word in comfort, safety and new technology in the sky. Importantly, it will be quietest long-haul aircraft serving Brisbane, a trend we welcome,” Alroe said.
“Cathay Pacific has been a favourite of Brisbane business travellers for years, we all now have even more to look forward to next time we fly with Cathay Pacific.”