[photopress:air_travel_cx_new_planes.jpg,full,alignright]Cathay Pacific , Hong Kong’s largest airline, has made Boeing very happy by ordering seven 777-300ERs and 10 747-8 cargo planes, the airline said in a Hong Kong stock exchange statement . The carrier also took options for another 14 747-8 freighters and received ‘significant price concessions.’ Put in an order like that and you would expect a discount.
Cathay Pacific plans to expand its fleet as China’s economic growth rate of at least 11% boosts travel and trade. The new freighters will replace older, less fuel-efficient planes, helping the airline cut its fuel bills at a time when prices are soaring.
Edward Wong, an analyst at Quam in Hong Kong said, ‘Cathay needs more airplanes to support its expansion in mainland China. China is expected to open its aviation market, and carriers need to get ready ahead of that.’
Cathay Pacific now has 30 commitments for the 777-300ER, including three already delivered, making it the largest customer for the plane in Asia.
Air travel in China grew 19.5% in the first half as economic growth made holidays and business trips affordable to more people. Cathay Pacific bought smaller rival Hong Kong Dragon Airlines last year to add flights to the mainland and if it sorts out its current dramas with the pilots it is in a good position to build in it largest market which currently accounts for 43% of sales.
Chief Executive Tony Tyler, seen here, said, ‘Sometime in the future we will be ordering more aircraft to supplement frequency and capacity on our regional network. I am confident that we will continue to grow our fleet.”
The Cathay Pacific Group, including Dragonair and Air Hong Kong Ltd., a cargo venture with DHL, operates a combined total of 175 planes, according to the statement. That will rise to 196 by 2012, including 147 painted in Cathay Pacific colors.
But Cathay Pacific does not always win. Its attempt to get a part of China Eastern Airlines did not happen as the previous story shows.