Cathay Pacific has ordered six Airbus A350 freighters, becoming the second Asian customer for the airframer’s newest cargo jet.

The deal, worth around $2.7 billion at list price, also sees Cathay take options for 20 more aircraft.

Cathay A350F

Source: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific has ordered six A350Fs as 747 freighter replacements

Cathay expects the first aircraft to be handed over in 2027, with deliveries to run through 2029. The airline has a current fleet of 20 Boeing 747 freighters, comprising 14 -8Fs, and six older -400ERFs, which the A350Fs are likely replacing.

The A350Fs will operate long-haul cargo destinations in North and South America, as well as Europe, the airline said on 8 December, adding that the new aircraft will “expand [its] fleet capacity”.

It states: “The company expects that the [A350Fs] will deliver improved efficiency and capability of the fleet of the company over time at competitive operating costs.”

Talk of new freighters first emerged in November 2022, when airline chief Ronald Lam – then the airline’s commercial chief – spoke about requiring more cargo capacity. 

The announcement is the second major order placed by the Hong Kong carrier this year. In September, it signed for 32 Airbus A321neo and A320neo narrowbodies, firming up options from a 2017 purchase agreement. Cathay is also working through a medium-haul fleet replacement campaign.

Lam adds: “As we move into 2024, our rebuilding journey is gaining momentum. This order marks another major component in our investment for the future.”

Apart from Cathay, Singapore Airlines also has orders for seven A350Fs, and was the first Asian operator to commit to the freighter programme. Other customers include Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways.