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Cathay Pacific eyeing outback ‘boneyard’: Report

written by Sandy Milne | July 7, 2020
Cathay Pacific 777 crosses Hong Kong (Cathay)

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific is considering shifting some of its long-haul planes to desert storage facilities, according to an anonymous company source cited by Reuters.

All options are on the table for the airline, which is said to be mulling the fate of over 50 of its wide body aircraft.

Dry storage destinations under consideration include those spread across the US, the United Arab Emirates, and the Australian outback – all viewed as attractive locations for mothballing aircraft as Hong Kong enters its humid summer period.

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The move comes after several long-haul heavyweights including Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Singapore Airlines have sent sizeable portions of their fleet to low-humidity storage facilities, indicating an expectation of an extended slump in air travel.

One of the more popular sites has been Alice Springs’ Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) facility, located in the central Australian outback.

Over the course of the past week, Singapore Airlines has sent off six of its 19 Airbus A380 planes to APAS, which already hosts 15 of the group’s aircraft.

APAS doubles as an aircraft boneyard – and as yet, it is unclear whether either Cathay or Singapore intend any of these planes for early retirement.

While Cathay declined to comment on the number being considered for long-term storage and/or retirement, the report says that the decision is being weighed across three different fleets–the Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and the Hong Kong Express brands.

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“We are exploring alternative locations beyond Hong Kong’s humid summer climate that can provide appropriate conditions for our aircraft while they are not flying,” Cathay said in a statement in response to the Reuters report.

“This is a prudent decision from an asset management perspective.”

The airline previously indicated it is undertaking a comprehensive review of its operations and aims to make a recommendation to the board on the optimal future size and shape of the group by the fourth quarter.

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