Nicholas Ionides / Singapore

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways is to strip the paint from its freighter aircraft as part of a plan to reduce costs.

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Oneworld alliance carrier Cathay says in a statement that the first freighter which has been “stripped bare of most of its paint” goes into service today. It says the Boeing 747 with a polished silver fuselage is now around 200kg lighter and this will help it save around HK$1.5 million ($195,000) per year in fuel costs.

“Ultimately all 14 freighter aircraft in the Cathay Pacific fleet will undergo the transformation,” it says, adding that only the tail will be painted as well as a strip along the nose.

“They will get the new look when they undergo a scheduled maintenance overhaul over the next couple of years. The full livery on passenger aircraft will remain unchanged.”

Cathay says the move was recommended by its Airline Weight Task Force, which was established to find ways to reduce aircraft weight to help the carrier cope with rising fuel costs. It says more than 200 staff suggestions were considered.

In addition to removing most of the paint from its freighters Cathay says it is introducing lighter cargo and baggage containers on its aircraft. General manager cargo Ron Mathison says: “Today’s high – and rising – fuel costs are placing a great burden on all airlines and everything we can do to cut fuel burn by losing weight is very welcome.”

The airline adds: “Cathay Pacific consumes almost 2% of all jet fuel used by the world’s airlines – a large amount considering its size – because most of its flights are long haul. High fuel prices have therefore had a major impact on the airline.”

Source: Flight International