Cathay Pacific defers five A350 deliveries, switches six to smaller model

Cathay Pacific Airways has been slashing costs and adjusting its route network after reporting its biggest first-half loss in at least two decades. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways will defer deliveries of five Airbus widebody aircraft by a year and switch six others to a smaller model as it finalised an order for 32 narrowbody aircraft, it said on Wednesday.

The carrier has been slashing costs and adjusting its route network after reporting on Aug. 16 its biggest first-half loss in at least two decades amid stiff competition from rivals.

It announced a non-binding deal to buy 32 Airbus A321neo aircraft valued at $4.064 billion at list prices on Aug. 21. That purchase was finalised on Wednesday, according to a stock exchange announcement.

Cathay also said on Wednesday it would switch six orders for A350-1000s to the smaller A350-900 model, saving US$288 million (S$387.7 million) based on list prices. The A350-900s will be delivered in 2019 and 2020, the airline said.

Cathay added it would defer the delivery of six A350-1000 aircraft to 2021 from 2020.

"We evaluate and adjust our fleet plan on an ongoing basis in accordance with the airlines' latest network growth needs," a Cathay spokesman said. "The A350-900 is an efficient aircraft for launching new routes and operating secondary frequencies, which better matches our expansion plan for the next couple of years."

An Airbus spokesman confirmed the A321neo orders and the changes to the A350 order, and said the total number of A350s ordered by Cathay remained unchanged at 46. Cathay has also leased two A350-900s from AerCap Holdings.

Airlines typically receive discounts on the list prices from the manufacturers. Cathay said it had received unspecified price concessions as part of the deal.

The airline announced on Aug. 31 it would fly from its Hong Kong hub to three new European destinations - Brussels, Copenhagen and Dublin - using A350-900 aircraft from next summer. It has cancelled flights to Düsseldorf, Germany as part of the network changes.

The A321neos, to be delivered between 2020 and 2023, will be operated mainly by short-haul arm Cathay Dragon on routes to mainland China and elsewhere within Asia, the airline said last month.

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