Cathay Pacific becomes second operator of the A350-1000 widebody

Cathay Pacific’s first A350-1000 delivered

Increased capacity and highest levels of comfort for the airline’s longest flights

Cathay Pacific Airways has become the second airline to operate the A350-1000, the world’s newest long-range widebody airliner. The airline took delivery of the aircraft at a special event in Toulouse, France.

The aircraft is the first of 20 A350-1000s ordered by Cathay Pacific and will join the carrier’s growing fleet of A350 XWB aircraft, which already includes 22 A350-900s. Both aircraft are complementary and provide for maximum commonality with unmatched operating efficiencies, while offering passengers the highest levels of comfort in all classes. Travellers will benefit from absolute well-being in the cabin, with more personal space, optimised cabin altitude, more fresh air, controlled temperature and humidity, integrated connectivity and the latest-generation in-flight entertainment system.

With its true long-range capability, the A350-1000 will form an important part of Cathay Pacific long-haul operations. The aircraft will be deployed on the airline’s new non-stop route from Hong Kong to Washington D.C., representing the longest flight – approximately 17 hours – performed by any airline out of Hong Kong.

Paul Loo, Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, said: “We already have one of the youngest long-haul fleets in the sky, and with the arrival of the A350-1000, our fleet is only going to get younger. The aircraft follows the successful entry of the A350-900 variant which has enabled us to expand our long-haul network at a near unprecedented rate. The A350-1000 has an incredible range, is remarkably fuel efficient and quiet, provides customers with an unsurpassed cabin environment and has extremely attractive operating economics.”

Eric Schulz, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are proud to deliver the A350-1000 to our long-standing customer Cathay Pacific. Bringing major advantages in fuel and cost efficiency along with unrivalled passenger comfort, the A350-1000 is the perfect platform for Cathay Pacific to increase capacity on some of its longest routes. The combination of the world’s newest widebody and Cathay Pacific’s world famous in-flight service will ensure that the airline can strengthen its position even further as one of the world’s leading international carriers.”

The A350-1000 is the latest member of Airbus’ leading widebody family, showing high level of commonality with the A350-900 with 95 percent common systems part numbers and the same Type Rating. As well as having a longer fuselage to accommodate 40 percent larger premium area (compared to the A350-900), the A350-1000 also features a modified wing trailing edge, new six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines. Along with the A350-900, the A350-1000 is shaping the future of air travel by offering unprecedented levels of efficiency and unrivalled comfort in its ‘Airspace’ cabin. With its additional capacity, the A350-1000 is perfectly tailored for some of the busiest long-haul routes. To date, 11 customers from five continents have ordered a total of 168 A350-1000s.

Source :  Airbus Website

Cathay Pacific finalises order for 32 A321neo aircraft

Cathay Pacific finalises order for 32 A321neo aircraft

World’s most efficient single-aisle for operation by Cathay Dragon

Cathay Pacific Airways has finalised an order with Airbus for 32 A321neo single-aisle aircraft. The aircraft will be operated by Cathay Dragon, the regional carrier of the Group, on services linking its Hong Kong home base with destinations across Asia. The purchase agreement firms up an MOU announced last month.

The new A321neo aircraft will replace and modernise Cathay Dragon’s current in-service fleet of 15 A320s and eight A321s, with the additional aircraft allowing the airline to capture growth opportunities in the region. The Cathay Dragon network currently covers 56 Asian destinations, including 28 in mainland China.

Cathay Dragon is an all-Airbus operator, with a current fleet of 23 A320 Family aircraft and 24 widebody A330-300s. In addition, Cathay Pacific operates 37 A330-300s, making the Group the largest A330 operator in the Asia-Pacific region. Cathay Pacific also operates the all-new long haul A350 XWB, with 18 A350-900s already in service. The carrier has another 30 A350 XWBs on order for future delivery, including the A350-900 and larger A350-1000.

The A321 is the largest member of the A320 Family and seats up to 240 passengers, depending on cabin configuration. Incorporating the latest engines, aerodynamic advances and cabin innovations, the A321neo offers a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 20 per cent per seat.

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling single-aisle product line and comprises four models (A318, A319, A320, A321) seating from 100 to 240 seats. To date, the Family has won over 13,200 orders and more than 7,700 aircraft have been delivered to some 400 customers and operators worldwide.


Source  :  Airbus Website

Cathay Pacific promotes Rupert Hogg to chief executive

Cathay Pacific flight CX105, operated by Airbus A350-900 B-LRI arrives in Melbourne. (Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific has promoted chief operating officer Rupert Hogg to become the airline’s new chief executive.

Hogg will take over from current chief executive Ivan Chu on May 1, Cathay said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

Chu, who has been chief executive for a little over three years having been appointed in March 2014, will become chairman of John Swire & Sons (China) Limited, the Chinese arm of Cathay’s majority owner Swire Group.

While it has been common practice in recent times for Cathay to appoint a new chief executive after about three years in the post, the transition occurs at a difficult time for the oneworld alliance member, which in March reported its first annual loss since 2008.

Cathay chairman John Slosar said Hogg would bring an experienced aviation and business background to the job.

“He has played a major role as chief operating officer over the last three years and brings commercial focus and a spirit of innovation to our efforts to overcome the well-documented structural challenges facing the airline,” Slosar said in a statement.

“He is the right man to lead our team.”

Cathay, and others, have battled the rapid international expansion of Chinese airlines and the ongoing rise of Middle East carriers offering long-haul to long-haul connections through their hubs, which have bitten into previously lucrative markets. And in Asia, low-cost carriers have won passengers happy to pay lower fares for a no-frills product on short- and medium-haul routes.

Further, the economic slowdown – both in China and elsewhere – had led to a significant reduction in premium corporate travel in business and first class, particularly on long-haul routes.

The airline is in the midst of a corporate transformation plan comprising a reorganisation of the business, staff layoffs and other cost reduction efforts in an effort to return to profitability.

Slosar said Chu had led efforts to improve the airline’s performance through the transformation plan.

“Ivan played a key role in the airline’s management during some very good times and, more recently, some difficult and challenging times,” Slosar said.

“In response, he led the team in devising the three-year transformation strategy which will provide the platform for Cathay’s medium term recovery and continued development.

“I look forward to working closely with Ivan in his new role as Chairman of John Swire & Sons (China). He brings a wealth of experience doing business in China to that role and to our substantial portfolio of companies and ventures embracing aviation, property, beverages, cold storage, retail and food businesses in Mainland China.”

(Read more about the issues facing Cathay Pacific in the March edition of Australian Aviation magazine.)


Australian Aviation

Cathay Pacific adding extra nonstop flights to Brisbane over summer

A supplied image of Cathay Pacific's first A350's maiden flight. (Airbus)

Cathay Pacific plans to offer more nonstop flights to Brisbane over summer through de-linking its four times weekly Hong Kong-Cairns-Brisbane service.

Under the new schedule to operate from October 2017 to March 2018, Cathay will fly nonstop between Cairns and Hong Kong three times a week, while the Brisbane-Hong Kong route will be served with 11 weekly nonstop flights.

Currently, the oneworld alliance member flies Brisbane-Hong Kong daily and operates four Hong Kong-Cairns-Brisbane-Cairns-Hong Kong services a week.

Cathay general manager for southwest Pacific Nelson Chin said the schedule change was in response to growing demand for leisure and business travel.

Further, the new Cairns services will be retimed to offer shorter connections to Asia and beyond via Cathay’s Hong Kong hub.

The move to have nonstop flights to Cairns comes as Singapore Airlines’ regional wing SilkAir prepares to boost its schedule from Cairns to Singapore later in 2017.

SilkAir de-linked its three times a week Singapore-Darwin- Cairns-Singapore flight in May 2016, a year after the airline’s inaugural service touched down in North Queensland.

The airline plans to increase Cairns to four flights a week from June, while a fifth weekly service will be added for some peak months. All flights are operated with Boeing 737-800 narrowbodies and offer connections to Asia and Europe via SilkAir’s Singapore hub.

Hong Kong Airlines, which is part of Virgin Australia shareholder HNA Group’s stable of airlines, is also on the Hong Kong-Cairns route.

Other long-haul destinations from Cairns included Osaka Kansai and Tokyo Narita (Jetstar) and Manila (Philippine Airlines), as well as seasonal services to Guangzhou (China Southern), Seoul Incheon (Jin Air) and Shanghai (China Eastern).

Flight Number/Routing
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival

CX146 Cairns-Hong Kong

Thursday, Saturday, Sunday



CX103 Hong Kong-Cairns

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday



CX150 Brisbane-Hong Kong
(New nonstop service)

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday



CX155 Hong Kong-Brisbane
(New nonstop service)

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday



CX156 Hong Kong-Brisbane




CX157 Brisbane-Hong Kong





Australian Aviation

Cathay Pacific boosts capacity to Sydney with third 777-300ER flight

Three of Cathay Pacific’s four daily Hong Kong-Sydney services will be operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER from the end of October as the airline again boosts capacity in the Australian market with larger aircraft.

The move to upgauge CX162 (the 1125 departure from Sydney) and CX161, which departs Hong Kong at 2125, from the Airbus A330-300 to the 777-300ER starting October 29 was in response to passenger demand, Cathay said on Wednesday.

Cathay’s three-class 777-300ERs have 340 seats (40 business, 32 premium economy, 268 economy), while there are 251 seats (39 business, 21 premium economy, 191 economy) on the A330-300s used to serve Australia.

As a result, the use of the larger 777-300ER represented an additional 1,246 seats per week on the route.

Cathay Pacific general manager for Southwest Pacific Nelson Chin said there was growing demand for travel out of Sydney, particularly in the premium economy cabin.

“Demand is certainly there to enable us to increase the number of seats for sale to and from Sydney,” Chin said in a statement.

“While there is a lot of competition on routes, particularly from Sydney, clearly there are many customers who appreciate the quality, level of service and value for money that sets Cathay Pacific apart.”

The airline flies 74 times a week to Australia and has utilised the full amount of available frequencies to the country’s four major gateways – Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – for Hong Kong-designated carriers.

Therefore, any increase in capacity has been achieved through larger aircraft and not additional flights.

Cathay has already replaced one A330-300 service to Melbourne with the larger A350-900. Further, the airline planned to operate the 777-300ER to the Victorian capital from March 1.

Meanwhile, Cathay’s nonstop Brisbane-Hong Kong flight would feature the A350-900, which are configured with 280 seats comprising 38 in business, 28 in premium economy and 214 in economy, from the end of March.

In November, Cathay chief executive Ivan Chu told reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) annual conference in Manila the airline’s preference was for an increased use of the A350 and 777 to Australia, rather than pushing for the bilateral to be expanded.

“I don’t see an urgent move,” Chu said of the need to expand the current bilateral air services agreement between Australia and Hong Kong.

“Four times a day to Sydney and three times a day to Melbourne, that’s perhaps what we want to operate for some time.

“For us, we are happy with the frequencies and we have bigger aircraft. Putting more seats on those routes are really important so we have 777s that we are putting in.”

Cathay was in the process of a top-to-bottom restructure of its business that is expected to include job cuts as it attempts to address weak yields and falling profits.

The oneworld alliance member, along its peers in the region, have battled the rapid international expansion of Chinese airlines and the ongoing rise of Middle East carriers offering long-haul to long-haul connections through their hubs, which have bitten into previously lucrative markets. And within Asia, low-cost carriers have won passengers happy to pay lower fares for a no-frills product on short- and medium-haul routes.


Australian Aviation

Cathay Pacific boosts Adelaide-Hong Kong to five times weekly

A file image of a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300. (Rob Finlayson)

Cathay Pacific is bringing back a fifth weekly flight between Adelaide and Hong Kong from early July.

The oneworld alliance member has been operating five flights a week on the route since December 2016, with the service operated by Airbus A330-300s due to drop back to four flights a week at the end of March 2017.

However, Cathay said it would again offer five flights a week from July 6, representing a 25 per cent increase in passenger seats as well as 15 tonnes of extra cargo capacity.

Cathay Pacific general manager for Southwest Pacific Nelson Chin said the additional frequency would offer South Australians more options for travel to Hong Kong and beyond, as well as help boost the number of overseas visitors to the state.

“We’ve not only seen increased numbers of tourists into Adelaide from mainland China, but also South Australians taking advantage of the one-stop connections via our Hong Kong hub,” Chin said in a statement.

“For example, it’s less than 23 hours to London, 13.5hrs to Beijing and Shanghai and one-stop to New York in just over 27 hours.”

In December, Cathay signed a sponsorship deal with Australian Football League club Port Adelaide, which is playing an AFL match against the Gold Coast Suns in Shanghai on Sunday May 14. It will be the first AFL match in China.

“This latest commercial partnership builds excitement for our historic game in China,” Port Adelaide chief executive officer Keith Thomas said in a statement.

Chin said the airline was thrilled to be Port Adelaide’s official international airline partner.

“Australian Football in China is something that has enormous potential, and we see a partnership with Port Adelaide as a logical fit for us to support and grow sporting, cultural and business links between Australia and Hong Kong and China,” Chin said.

“We’ve been serving Adelaide for over 20 years and this partnership really demonstrates our commitment to the city. We’re looking forward to helping stage the game in Shanghai.”


Australian Aviation

Cathay Pacific to bring Airbus A350 to Brisbane in March


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.”


Australian Aviation

Cathay Pacific flies New Zealand’s first Airbus A350-900 service

The first Airbus A350-900 passenger service touches down at Auckland Airport. (Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific has operated the first scheduled Airbus A350-900 flight to New Zealand with CX197 touching down at Auckland Airport a few minutes before 1300 local time on Friday.

The inaugural A350 service, operated by B-LRC, departed Hong Kong on Thursday night and covered the roughly 4,500nm journey in a little over 10 hours.

The aircraft, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, was on the ground for about two hours before departing at 1500 local time as the reciprocal CX198 back to Hong Kong.

The oneworld alliance member had an all Kiwi crew in the flight deck for the inaugural service, with Chief Pilot Airbus Captain Gavin Haslemore and Senior Captain Colin Davis at the controls of B-LRC for the flight to Auckland.

In a significant boost to the passenger experience, the A350-900 replaces the older A340-300s that Cathay previously had on the route.

Cathay’s 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 in economy designed to make it easier for passengers to sleep.

There was an official ceremony at Auckland Airport to welcome the new aircraft type, with New Zealand Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, Cathay Pacific director of sales and marketing Dane Cheng and Auckland Airport general manager for people and safety Anna Cassels-Brown present to take part in the celebrations.

Cathay Pacific New Zealand and Pacific Islands country manager Mark Pirihi said the A350 would be a major drawcard for long-haul travellers to and from the region.

“New Zealand travellers now have the opportunity to travel to destinations in Asia and Europe through Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong hub on this all-new aircraft featuring the latest in entertainment technology and cabin design,” Pirihi said.

The airline will operate the A350-900 daily to Auckland, with a second daily service added during the peak summer holiday period using a Boeing 777-300ER. Cathay also partners with Air New Zealand on flights between New Zealand and Hong Kong as part of a joint-venture.

Meanwhile, Australians will have a new one-stop option to Israel from March 2017 when Cathay Pacific begins service to Tel Aviv from its Hong Kong hub.

The oneworld alliance member plans to operate between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv four times a week with Airbus A350-900s starting March 26 2017.

Cathay Pacific chief executive Ivan Chu said Tel Aviv was a “culturally rich and technologically-advanced business capital”, adding Israel offered “tremendous potential for business and leisure travel”.

“Together with the recent launch of our Madrid and Gatwick operations, this new service to Tel Aviv reflects our commitment to growing the Cathay Pacific network and further strengthening Hong Kong’s position as one of the world’s great international aviation hubs,” Chu said in a statement.

Cathay flies to Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from Hong Kong.

Currently, the only single-carrier, one-stop option to Israel from Australia is on Korean Air via Seoul Incheon.


Australian Aviation

Cathay Pacific issues profit warning and warns of grim times ahead

A supplied image of Cathay Pacific's first A350's maiden flight. (Airbus)

Cathay Pacific has launched a “critical review” and issued a profit downgrade as weak demand and intense competition from rivals eats into revenues and pushed down yields.

The company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday night the outlook had deteriorated since its August 17 results announcement, when Cathay said net profit for the six months to June 30 2016 slumped 82 per cent to HK$353 million.

“Overcapacity and strong competition is putting particular pressure on our passenger business, with continued shortfalls in revenue compared with forecasts and heavy pressure on yield,” Cathay said.

“Against this difficult revenue picture, we are engaged in a critical review of our business, the goal of which is to improve revenues and to reduce costs so as to maintain a strong financial position and to deliver acceptable financial returns.

“The review will consider all options for improving efficiency and productivity. At the same time, we understand the need to continue to invest in our businesses and to improve continuously the products and services which we provide to our customers.”

Cathay, and others, have battled the rapid international expansion of Chinese airlines and the ongoing rise of Middle East carriers offering long-haul to long-haul connections through their hubs which have bitten into previously lucrative markets. And in Asia, low-cost carriers have won passengers happy to pay lower fares for a no-frills product on short- and medium-haul routes.

Further, the economic slowdown – both in China and elsewhere – had led to a significant reduction in premium corporate travel in business and first class, particularly on long-haul routes.

In August, the oneworld alliance member said it had cut prices for business class travel in a bid to stimulate demand, with corporate travel originating in Hong Kong to destinations such as London and New York well below expectations.

Further, Cathay said the number of corporate travelers declined for the first time since 2009, when business was affected by the global financial crisis.

Since its market commentary in August, the challenging economic outlook has become worse, prompting Cathay to warn the market net profit for the second half of calendar 2016 would be below the HK$353 million in the first half.

“Against this background, it is no longer expected that the Cathay Pacific group’s results for the second half of 2016 will be better than those of the first half,” Cathay said.

Traffic figures for August 2016 showed the combined Cathay and Dragonair networks carried 2.98 million passenger in the month, a decline of 3.8 per cent from the prior corresponding period.

Load factors dropped 1.8 percentage points to 86.8 per cent, while capacity measured by available seat kilometres (RPK) was down 0.8 per cent.

Broken down by region, demand, measured by revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) fell most on Cathay’s India, Middle East, Pakistan and Sri Lanka routes, which were down 18.3 per cent in August compared with a year ago.

Meanwhile, the airline’s Mainland China network suffered a 5.6 per cent fall in RPKs for August.

Cathay chief executive Ivan Chu has flagged adding more seats on board some of its aircraft in an effort to improve returns and grow capacity at a time where takeoff and landing slots at the busy Hong Kong International Airport were scarce.

Chu told The South China Morning Post newspaper the airline planned to move to 10 seats per row on its Boeing 777 fleet, compared with nine across currently.

“If you look at the Boeing 777s, which everybody uses from the Gulf to the US to European carriers and ourselves, the standard is 3-4-3,” Chu told the newspaper.

“I think we are moving towards that stage, it’s very clear.”

“Slots are very scarce. We want to generate more seats per slot, that’s the key thing. That’s why we are doing it. It’s very important we do it.”

The airline has also ordered new generation aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X that consume less fuel, fly further and are cheaper to maintain than the older aircraft they are replacing.


Australian Aviation

Cathay ends Boeing 747 passenger services

Cathay Pacific staff at Tokyo Haneda Airport say goodbye as the airline's final Boeing 747-400 flight prepares for departure to Hong Kong. (Cathay Pacific/Twitter)

Tokyo Haneda is the latest airport to play host to an increasingly familiar scene in recent times – saying goodbye to the Boeing 747.

On Saturday, it was Cathay Pacific’s turn to bid farewell to the iconic aircraft, with CX543 from the close-in Tokyo airport to Hong Kong the oneworld alliance member’s last revenue passenger flight with the 747-400.

Staff lined up alongside B-HUJ as it prepared for departure, marking the end of an era that began on August 4 1979 when Cathay’s first 747, 747-200 VR-HKG, took to the skies for the first time in passenger service.

There is an Australian connection to that milestone, with Cathay’s first destinations with the 747 from its Hong Kong hub being Sydney, via Melbourne.

Some 37 years later, the aircraft that accelerated Cathay’s transformation into one of the world’s premier network carriers has been retired in favour of big twins such as the Boeing 777 and Airbus A350.

Cathay general manager for operations and former 747 chief pilot Mark Hoey, an Australian, says the impact of the 747 on the city of Hong Kong was immense.

“The 747 fundamentally changed the way people were able to travel,” Hoey said in a statement.

“Being able to carry more people for far greater distances than before meant the 747 effectively shrunk the planet. The aircraft had a vital effect on the development of Hong Kong as an international aviation hub – and indeed, Hong Kong’s economic and tourism prospects. As a result, it helped make Hong Kong become a world city.”

Hoey, who flew three variants of the 747 – the -200, -300 and -400 – said it was a great aircraft to fly and generated great excitement for pilots given the long-haul routes it opened up.

“For such a large aircraft, the 747 is amazingly manoeuvrable,” Hoey said.

“It’s also very reliable and robust – which was very helpful during typhoon season in the old days of Kai Tak. It could do things that other aircraft couldn’t. It really is an outstanding piece of design and engineering.”

“The launch of new long-haul routes, thanks to the 747, was exciting, and Cathay made a name for itself by operating some of the longest flights of the era, like Gatwick [London] to Hong Kong nonstop for the first time by any airline, and later to the east coast of the United States.”

A supplied image of Cathay Pacific's first Boeing 747, a -200 variant registration VR-HKG. (Cathay Pacific/Twitter)

While 747 passenger services have ended, Cathay’s 20 Boeing 747 freighters (comprising one 747-400BCF, six 747-400ERFs and 13 747-8Fs) will continue to support global commerce by ferrying goods around the world for years to come.

Despite all of the 747’s ground-breaking achievements, not just for Cathay but airlines around the world, advances in aircraft and engine technology mean newer twin-engine jets can fly just as far and carry just as many passengers and cargo using less fuel.

In recent years, Singapore Airlines (April 2012), Air New Zealand (September 2014) and Air France (January 2016) are just three examples of carriers that have sent their 747 passenger variants into retirement.

And there are more to come, with Saudia set to end 747 passenger services before the end of 2016, while United has said previously it planned to accelerate the retirement of its 747s.

Closer to home, Qantas is expected to remain operating 747s for the foreseeable future. The Flying Kangaroo has 11 747s, a combination of six -400ERs and five -400s.

Although the Australian flag carrier has ordered new-generation 787s as a partial replacement for the “Queen of the Skies”, the 747s are still important for long over-water services to Johannesburg and Santiago.

A research note from thinktank CAPA – Centre for Aviation said the global fleet of in-service passenger/combi 747-400s was at 204 frames following the Cathay retirements.

Of those 65 per cent were held by six carriers – British Airways (38), United (21), KLM (19), Lufthansa (13), Qantas (11) and Thai Airways (10).

Other 747-400 operators included Delta (nine), China Airlines (8) and Korean Air and Virgin Atlantic, both with eight. Meanwhile, Lufthansa, Korean Air and Air China also fly the Boeing’s newest passenger variant of the 747, the 747-8I

“Many operators can be presumed to shed their 747-400 fleets by 2020,” CAPA said in a research note dated October 1.

“It looks likely that the 747-400 passenger fleet will dip below 200 units by the end of 2016 or early 2017. At the same time the number of regular non-charter 747-400s will decrease to less than 150 as United and Delta complete retirement.

“The decrease is occurring in spite of low fuel prices. The drastic decline of fuel costs in recent times has prompted some airlines to retain 747s for longer, and in larger numbers, than previously planned; but others – like United – are accelerating retirement. Although no drastic increase in fuel price is forecast, any significant would accelerate 747 retirements.

“The 747-400 looks likely to fly into 2020, with the -8i even longer. Yet its prominence and reign as Queen of the Skies are long over.”

Australian Aviation