More details about Cathay Pacific Airways' impeding widebody orders have emerged. The airline has a immediate need for more Asia-Pacific capacity, as well as longer term ultra-long haul requirement (Flight International, 14-20 March).

According to Cathay corporate development director Antony Tyler, an order will be concluded by mid-May covering "three or four airframes" - a combination of Airbus A330s and an A340 or Boeing 777s. The widebodies will be delivered in the second half of next year, and are needed to help it meet forecast capacity growth requirements on Asia-Pacific routes from next year. The aircraft replace the planned lease of Gulf Air A340s which was never finalised.

The airline is also believed to be considering further Boeing 747-400 orders. The requirement is understood to include additional freighters, as well as the planned 413t (910,000lb) passenger model for delivery from 2002.

Tyler says that the Hong Kong carrier will finalise its ultra-long haul requirements for transpacific routes within "three or four months", with the Airbus A340-500/600 and the Boeing 777-200LR/300ER under evaluation.

Sources suggest it is favouring a mixed purchase, with the four-engined A340-500 for non-stop transpacific services to the USA, and the larger 777-300ER for denser, shorter routes.

Contractural negotiations should be completed by July, and Tyler expects orders to be placed some time during the third quarter.

Cathay's outstanding deliveries in the short term include three A330-300s and a leased A340-300, all due early next year.

Source: Flight International