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Cathay to bring A350-900, 777-300ER to Melbourne in 2017

written by WOFA | September 8, 2016

Cathay Pacific has ordered 48 A350s. (Cathay Pacific/Airbus)

Cathay Pacific is boosting passenger and cargo capacity between Melbourne and Hong Kong with the use of the larger Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER on the route from early 2017.

The oneworld alliance member said on Thursday it would deploy the A350-900 on one of its three daily flights to Melbourne from February 1 2017, with the Boeing 777-300ER to be used on the route a month later on March 1.

Currently, all three of Cathay’s Melbourne-Hong Kong rotations are operated with Airbus A330-300s configured with 251 seats comprising 39 in business, 21 in premium economy and 191 in economy.

Cathay's six-way economy class headrest on the A350-900. (Cathay Pacific)

By contrast, the A350-900s have 280 seats (38 business, 28 premium economy and 214 economy) and feature the airline’s latest cabin products such as on-board wifi, new premium economy seat and refreshed business and economy seats. In particular, the aircraft features Cathay’s innovative “six-way” headrest designed to make it easier for passengers to sleep.

Cathay's six-way economy class headrest on the A350-900. (Cathay Pacific)

And the airline’s three-class Boeing 777-300ERs have 40 business class, 32 premium economy and 268 economy seats for a total of 340.


The upgauge of aircraft type of two of Cathay’s three daily flights represented a capacity increase of 15.7 per cent to Melbourne.

Cathay's six-way economy class headrest on the A350-900. (Cathay Pacific)
Cathay’s six-way economy class headrest on the A350-900. (Cathay Pacific)

Cathay general manager for southwest Pacific Nelson Chin said passengers would notice the difference travelling on the latest generation A350.

Further, Chin also talked up the benefits of Cathay’s freight operations out of Australia with the use of the 777-300ER.

“It is really exciting to be introducing the Airbus A350 into Melbourne,” Chin said in a statement.

“I know people are going to love the quieter, more comfortable inflight experience with larger windows, new seats and a spacious aesthetically-pleasing cabin with LED mood lighting.

“The introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER onto CX178, which departs daily at 2330, not only adds more Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class seats, but it also provides better payload which will help facilitate cargo uplift.”

The A350-900 has been scheduled to operate the CX104/CX105 rotation, which is an afternoon departure from Melbourne and red-eye service from Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the 777-300ER will take over the CX178 overnight flight from Melbourne and CX163 morning service from Hong Kong.

Cathay, which picked up its first A350-900 in May, has 22 of the type on order due to be delivered between now and the end of 2017. It has also signed for 26 of the larger A350-1000, which are due to arrive between 2018-2020

In addition to some regional routes, the A350-900 operates long-haul services from Hong Kong to Dusseldorf and London Gatwick, with Paris, Auckland and Rome to receive the aircraft by the end of 2016, according to the June 2016 edition of Cathay’s staff magazine CXWorld.

The use of larger aircraft follows a similar move in Sydney, where two of Cathay’s four daily flights are now operated with Boeing 777-300ERs.

Cathay has utilised all available traffic rights for Hong Kong carriers to Australia’s four major international gateways of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, which currently sits at 70 flights a week. As a result, the only way to add capacity is to upgauge to larger equipment.

The decision to add extra capacity to Melbourne also comes as Virgin Australia prepares to mount flights to Hong Kong and Beijing from a yet-to-be-disclosed Australian city from June 2017 in partnership with HNA Group.

Cathay Pacific flight CX100, operated by 777-300ER B-KQR, at Sydney Airport. (Cathay Pacific)
A Cathay Pacific 777-300ER at Sydney Airport. (Cathay Pacific)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) was the first airline to operate the A350 to Melbourne when it began a short stint with the aircraft in August. Thai Airways was due to replace its Boeing 777-200ER with the A350 on its Bangkok-Melbourne flights later in September.


  • Geoff


    Glowing endorsement of the magnificent A350 XWB will grow rapidly as more examples are delivered and grace the airspace around our Globe.

    The travelling Public will seek out and endorse this aircraft as they do with the A380. The passenger attributes speak for themselves, the quietness, space, environmentally friendly cabin and more.

    Of course, this will be true if airlines resist the temptation to squeeze more passengers across the cabin. It is designed for a maximum of 9 abreast in economy. Remember, most people travel in this class. The point being, the general passenger perception. Gold medal to Airbus for design.

    The narrower 787 cabin gets a silver medal.

  • Russell M


    Keep your 777, thanks though. Much prefer the Airbus cabin – so this will be a case of having to check the schedules closely to find the A330 / A350 rather than 777.

  • Jakob karpin


    Cathay is proud of their new a350s, I think it would greatly benefit them with fuel cost and passengers would want to fly on this new aircrft too

  • Richard


    Hi Russell. Oils ain’t oils. The 777’s CX will be operating into MEL will be the -300ER’s which are all fairly new and far superior to the old 777-200’s and -300’s. Not saying that they’re better than the 350 but they really “should” be at least on a par with the A330 if not better and significantly faster as well.

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