Cathay Pacific Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, and plans to exercise purchase rights for six Boeing 777-300ERs.

The total value of the aircraft purchases is about HK$75 billion ($9.7 billion) at list price, says the Oneworld carrier. The A350s, to be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, have a catalogue price of about $7.8 billion. The General Electric-powered 777s have a list price of $1.6 billion.

Cathay expects the A350s to be delivered between 2016 and 2019. The A350-900, which will enter service in 2013, will "form the backbone of Cathay Pacific's future mid-sized wide-body fleet", says the carrier.

It will operate the aircraft across its route network, including on non-stop flights to Europe and North America.

Cathay Pacific A350-900
 © Airbus

"The A350-900 is a perfect fit for the development of our fleet - a mid-size long-haul aircraft that is fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, and provides the kind of capacity, range and operating economics that we need to complement and enhance our existing fleet," says Cathay's CEO Tony Tyler.

"The delivery schedule fits our requirements very neatly. The 30 new aircraft will be deployed to replace older aircraft and grow our fleet to meet the challenges of the future."

Under the letter of intent with Airbus, Cathay will pay a non-refundable commitment fee of $4.5 billion for the A350s, says the airline. It plans to make a further announcement once it enters into a formal purchase agreement with the airframer.

cathay pacific 777-300ER

Separately, the airline agreed to exercise purchase rights for six 777-300ERs, on top of 30 777s already on firm order.

Cathay has received 18 of the 30 777s and expects the remaining 12 to arrive by 2013.

The aircraft will be operated on routes to North America and Europe, says the airline, which has a fleet of 128 wide-body aircraft currently.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news