As hinted a few weeks ago, Cathay Pacific this week made public its intention to have a Premium Economy product onboard. While the new product is yet to receive a formal launch, new flights to be operated with Premium Economy have already been loaded on the reservation systems.
With the new product offering, Cathay becomes the latest airline to join the trend of offering a new class between Business and Economy.
According to the presently available information, Cathay will initially start offering the new product on board its Airbus A330-300s and Boeing 777-300ERs. The first destinations to receive the new product on regular service would be Sydney and Toronto.
Cathay Pacific regular Economy class.
Photo by Ch.H
While no specific details about the offering has been revealed yet, it is safe to assume that the new class will offer one seat less per row than Cathay's present Economy class. Cathay is taking an interesting approach, and making a daring experiment, as it becomes the first Asian premium airline to offer the new "fourth class".
At present both seating configurations featuring Premium Economy are configured for three classes only with no First Class offering. However it cannot be ruled out that the airline will introduce a four class seating configuration at some point in the future.
The Airbus A330-300 would be the aircraft to launch Cathay's Premium Economy offering on 1st March 2012. With 28 Premium Economy seats on board, the aircraft will feature 241 seats through all classes.
Business Class - 36 (4 abreast, 1-2-1)
Premium Economy - 28 (7 abreast, 2-3-2)
Economy Class - 175 (8 abreast, 2-4-2)
Photo by Kentaro Iemoto
The aircraft is coded as 33G, and will initially operate five weekly services to Sydney. The 33G will also operate a weekly round-trip flight each to Shanghai and Singapore, however it is yet to be seen whether these flights will actually offer Premium Economy services on board.
The weekly rotation plan of the first A330-300 to feature Premium Economy would be as follows, per The Networker's estimate.
Day Flight ETD HKG Route ETA HKG
2 CX360/9 1400 - 1625 PVG 1735 - 2010
2 CX101/0 2355 - 1205+1 SYD 1505+1 - 2135+1
4 CX739/4 1135 - 1525 SIN 1625 - 2015 (eff S12, 20mins earlier for W12)
4 CX101/0 2355 - 1215+1 SYD 1540+1 - 2200+1
5 CX101/0 2355 - 1215+1 SYD 1540+1 - 2200+1
6 CX101/0 2355 - 1215+1 SYD 1505+1 - 2135+1
7 CX101/0 2355 - 1205+1 SYD 1505+1 - 2135+1
The Boeing 777-300ER would be the second aircraft in Cathay's fleet to get the new product, and will enter in service on 2nd March, 2012. Coded the 77G, it will initially operate three weekly services to Toronto. Weekly services to Manila and Shanghai too are loaded, however as with the 33G, it is not known whether these will actually be sold as Premium Economy.
The new 77G features the third and latest iteration of Cathay's 777-300ER seating configurations and will seat 340 passengers.
Business Class - 40 (4 abreast, 1-2-1)
Premium Economy - 32 (8 abreast, 2-4-2)
Economy Class - 268 (9 abreast, 3-3-3)
The expected rotation plan of the aircraft at service launch is as follows.
Day Flight ETD HKG Route ETA HKG
2 CX368/7 0850 - 1115 PVG 1225 - 1505
2 CX903/2 1640 - 1845 MNL 1950 - 2155
3 CX828/7 1045 - 1335 YYZ 1530 - 1910+1
5 CX828/7 1045 - 1335 YYZ 1515 - 1855+1
7 CX826/9 1705 - 2020 YYZ 0140+1 - 0500 +2
According to the presently available information it seems that Cathay is more likely to offer the new product on routes where there is a significant premium demand and where there is sufficient extra capacity provided by Cathay. In the same token, I believe that it will take some time for us to see the new product entering routes like London where Cathay is supposedly experiencing high First class loads. The introduction of a four class configuration could however change this, and this is certainly a possibility given that Cathay has chosen its new long haul flagship, the 777-300ER, as one of the types to offer Premium Economy.
At this stage, it is not known whether the new class would feature only on A330-300s and 777-300ERs, or even whether these will be reconfigured aircraft or new deliveries (The 333 and 77W however are the only production models that CX has on order at present). Nor is any information known about the actual seat dimensions and the seat type used. However we should hear about these at an official launch due soon, and I'm sure that our own Runway Girl
would bring you all the latest details about the new product as they are revealed. Till then, stay tuned!