Cathay Pacific Airways has placed an order for 12 Boeing 777-300ERs and also has agreed to lease three A330-300s and four 777-300ERs from International Lease Finance (ILFC).

Cathay 777

The Oneworld carrier says in a statement today it has agreed to acquire directly from Boeing 12 777-300ERs and lease four 777-300ERs from ILFC. Its first 777-300ER will be delivered in September 2007.

The selection of the 777-300ER over the A340-600, exclusively predicted by Flight International  last week, concludes an intense competition at the Hong Kong-based carrier which is expected to result in several follow-on orders.

Cathay now operates three A340-600s on ultra long-haul routes but these aircraft are all on short-term lease. It also already has a fleet of 16 777-200/300s which are used for flights within Asia but until today Cathay had not placed any orders for the higher gross weight and longer-range 777-300ER.

Cathay also has taken options on 20 additional 777-300ERs. The 12 on firm order and four aircraft to be leased from ILFC will all be delivered by mid 2010.

The General Electric GE90 is the only engine available on the 777-300ER.

Cathay says it also has agreed to lease three Rolls Royce Trent 700-powered A330-300s from ILFC for delivery in 2008.

“These aircraft orders mark an exciting and significant milestone in the development of our airline, demonstrating our board’s confidence of the airline and Hong Kong,” says CEO Philip Chen. “The addition of these new aircraft to the 100 we will have by next year will make us a carrier of significant size.”

Cathay says its 777-300ER order is “its biggest ever”. Boeing confirms the order in a separate statement but does not provide a value.

Cathay currently operates 95 aircraft, including 22 747-400s, 13 747Fs, 16 777-200/300s, 26 A330-300s, 15 A340-300s and three A340-600s. It already has outstanding orders for one additional 777-300, three A330-300s and one 747-400.

Source: Flight International