Cathay Pacific in talks with aircraft manufacturers about medium-haul planes

Cathay Pacific in talks with aircraft manufacturers about medium-haul planes

A passenger aircraft from Cathay Pacific Airways took off from the Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 7, 2018 in this Aug 7, 2018 file photo. A senior executive said on Friday that Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, is in talks with aircraft manufacturers about orders for medium-haul aircraft and dedicated freighters.

The existing orders for Airbus SE A 350 and Boeing Co 777 X planes are still available, according to Chief Customer and Customer Officer Ronald Lam, who said they have enough long-haul aircraft to fulfill Cathay Pacific's growth plan.

Lam said the focus would be to acquire more medium-haul jets to operate in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as dedicated freighters, though he did not provide the numbers or types being considered.

A long-serving executive who will take over as chief executive on January 1 had raised the prospect of jet orders in an interview with Bloomberg last month.

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The talks with manufacturers come as the airline looks to rebuild after being hit hard by more than two years of tough passenger and quarantine rules in Hong Kong that ended only recently.

The airline forecast a substantial loss last week, but second-half results are expected to improve sequentially thanks to an increase in travel and air cargo demand.

Lam told analysts that the passenger outlook was improving but that cargo demand and prices had weakened compared to an exceptional performance in 2021.

The freight rate has fallen compared to last year, but it is still at slightly elevated levels compared to a normal year, he said. There is a lot of uncertainty about 2023. By the end of 2023, Cathay said it will be able to operate at 70 percent of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity, up from 33 percent planned by the end of 2022, and aims to return to full pre-pandemic capacity by the end of 2024.