Cathay Pacific has welcomed four A321neos into its fleet to date, ahead of its planned launch of short-haul flights on the aircraft from 4 August.
The orders were previously made under the airline’s regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon, which was shut down and absorbed by the mainline carrier in October 2020.
Cathay hopes to see two additional A321neos delivered by year-end and increase its total A321neo fleet to 16 by the end of 2023.
In light of the recent deliveries, the Hong Kong flag-carrier has said it will perform its inaugural short-haul flight using its new A321neos on 4 August, flying from Hong Kong to Shanghai (Pudong).
The airline expects to operate numerous short-haul regional trips on the aircraft, with destinations to include Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Kaohsiung, and Taipei.
“We’re incredibly excited to see our next-generation A321neo take to the skies for the first time next month as we continue to add more passenger services in the region,” said Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang.
The single-aisle A321neo has been specifically designed for the carrier, “fitted with an array of new features that offer the most enjoyable short-haul experience in the world to our customers,” he said.
Notably, the airline has not operated a narrow-body since 1983 when it deployed its Boeing 707 aircraft. Its fleet comprises of A330s, A350s, and Boeing 777s, all wide-bodies.
The move of adding A321neo’s to its fleet comes at a time when Airbus narrow-body jets are leading the market during the COVID-19 recovery.
The jet includes a newly introduced Regional Business Class feature, providing “cocoon-like” seating, divider screens, and 15.6-inch Ultra-HD personal TV screens.
Cathay boasted of the jet’s sustainability, as it allegedly delivers 22 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions per seat, compared to the previous A321 – due to its advanced engine and larger winglets.
The addition comes after a year that left the Hong Kong airline with a HK$21.6 billion loss in revenue due to the pandemic.
Last month’s load factor shows a slight increase, as the airline carried 50 per cent more passengers compared to 2020, but is still down 98 per cent compared to 2019.
The airline announced last month it expected to lower its cash burn in the second half of 2021 to less than HK$1 billion (US$129 million) a month – down from HK$2.5-3 billion last year.
Hong Kong is moving at a steady rate with vaccinations, seeing 26.4 per cent of the population receiving both jabs.
The nation is also averaging between one to seven new cases a day since March, compared to over 100 daily last year.