To replace its aging Boeing (BA.N.) 747 cargo airplanes, Cathay Pacific Airways (0293.HK) said on Friday that it had placed a definite order to acquire six Airbus (AIR.PA) A350 freighters with a list price of $2.71 billion. This is part of the airline’s effort to modernize its fleet of planes.
According to a statement the airline released, Cathay anticipates that the six A350s will arrive between 2027 and the end of 2029. Cathay now operates 14 newer 747-8Fs and six older model 747-400ERFs.
“These highly fuel-efficient, next-generation freighters will provide important additional cargo capacity, expand our global network and contribute to our sustainability leadership goals,” President and CEO Ronald Lam stated.
During the negotiation, Cathay also gained the right to buy twenty additional A350 freighters. Airbus negotiated price discounts with Cathay, bringing the total price down to below the original price. Big airlines generally receive significant discounts from the manufacturers of airplanes.
Reuters reported one month ago that the airline was giving Airbus preference for the closely watched transaction.
After putting off a decision for several months, Cathay has now made its choice, which means that the airline will replace its fleet of Boeing 747s with the new Airbus aircraft.
Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comments. Because Cathay flies both the Boeing 777 and the A350 passenger models, Cathay’s decision about the next phase of cargo operations was considered a crucial test for the two freighters.
Cathay Airlines has stated that the Airbus freighters will establish a connection between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, in addition to many long-distance destinations in North and South America and Europe.
According to data provided by the International Air Transport Association, Cathay Pacific is the fifth-largest air freight carrier in the world. When specialized express parcel providers FedEx and UPS are omitted, Cathay Pacific is the third-largest traditional freight airline after Qatar Airways and Emirates.
In addition, the company’s aircraft order book has 49 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft that are anticipated to be delivered by the year 2029, as well as 21 Boeing 777-9 passenger jets that are slated to be delivered beginning in the year 2025.