Cathay Pacific places biggest ever order for new aircraft

HONG KONG (Cathay Pacific) - Cathay Pacific Airways today placed its biggest ever order for new aircraft to grow the airline, modernise and expand its fleet and continue to strengthen Hong Kong as a global aviation hub.

The airline has made commitments for 16 advanced wide-body Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with purchase rights for 20 more. It also made commitments to acquire three Airbus A330-300s to operate regional routes.

The 777-300ER’s will be acquired through a combination of 12 direct purchases from The Boeing Company and four operating leases from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The three new A330-300s will also be acquired via operating leases from ILFC.

The 777-300ER will be powered by General Electric GE90-115B engines and the Airbus A330-300 by the Rolls-Royce Trent 700. The 16 777-300ERs will be delivered between September 2007 and July 2010. All three Airbus A330-300s will be delivered in 2008.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Philip Chen said: "These aircraft orders mark an exciting and significant milestone in the development of our airline – demonstrating our Board’s confidence in the long-term future of the airline and Hong Kong. The addition of these new aircraft to the 100 we will have by next year will make us a carrier of significant size."

Mr Chen added: "More aircraft will allow us to have more flights, new destinations and greater hub connections. This rapid fleet increase will enhance our strength as a carrier and Hong Kong's position as a global hub and gateway to the Chinese Mainland. This is a long-term commitment to the continued profitable growth of the airline. It puts us firmly on a footing for future success."

Cathay Pacific's fleet currently totals 95 aircraft. Its long-haul fleet comprises 22 Boeing 747-400, 15 Airbus A340-300 and three Airbus A340-600. The regional fleet comprises 16 Boeing 777-200/300 and 26 Airbus A330-300 aircraft. The airline also operates 13 Boeing 747 freighters.

Later this month, the airline takes delivery of the world’s first 747-400BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter), converted from a Cathay Pacific passenger 747-400 aircraft. The airline has firm orders for six such 747-400BCF's and has options for a further six.

One new 747-400F freighter, one 777-300 and three Airbus A330-300s and three refitted 747-400 passenger aircraft have entered service with the airline this year. It has outstanding orders for one Boeing 777-300 and three Airbus A330-300s and one 747-400. Cathay Pacific's fleet will total 100 aircraft by September 2006, its 60th Anniversary.

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