Network-wise, the focus will shift to Europe in the gear-up for the first Airbus A350-900 delivery in February 2016.
In Europe, after having launched the 4 times weekly Manchester flights in December/2014 and daily Zurich flights in March/2015, as well as 4 times weekly Dusseldorf flights in September/2014, the next big opportunity would come with the Airbus A350, which enables Cathay to launch secondary destinations such as Barcelona in Spain and very likely to replace the 4-class 777-300ERs on the Zurich and Dusseldorf routes with 3-class A350-900s, thus right-sizing the capacity offered on these routes.
On the fleet development side, the arrival of the A350 will mean part of the A330 fleet, most likely the 13 long-haul ones with high maximum take-off weight (MTOW) rating performing missions to Australia, will be displaced, on top of replacing the A340-300 on the Auckland route now that the Moscow route is being suspended from 1/June onwards.
Deploying the A350 and replacing the 3-class A330-300 on routes to the Australian capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth make much sense, as the 280-seat A350-900 has a 12.04% bigger Economy cabin than a 251-seat A330-300.
This makes the A350-900 arguably more suitable to the Australian market as the 12% bigger economy cabin leads to an around 6% point jump in the economy ratio from 76.1% to 82.3%.
That said, with the frequencies to the 4 Australian capital cities being capped, there will very likely be a combination of 777-300ERs and A350-900s serving the market to cope with growth in the future.
Based on the article “Cathay Pacific begins the next chapter of growth” published in Aspire Aviation
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