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Boeing noses ahead in key Cathay Pacific order battle

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways is closing on a major strategic aircraft order that will decide the make-up of a key part of its fleet for years to come.

Industry sources in Hong Kong say there are strong indications Boeing has won and that a formal internal decision could be made by the airline as early as this week.

Cathay 777

The Oneworld alliance carrier’s chief operating officer Tony Tyler told Flight International that the airline plans to order either Airbus A340-600s or Boeing 777-300ERs for delivery from 2007.

Tyler will not reveal the numbers of aircraft the airline is considering, but says it will be a major order when options are included. He adds that it is almost certain that follow-on orders will be placed for the same type as the need for additional aircraft arises in future.

“Whatever we choose will become the core of our long-haul fleet,” he says. “They will eventually replace the [Boeing] 747-400s and the [Airbus] A340-300s and that in itself is about a 40-aircraft replacement task. We’ll also need some growth. Therefore, whoever wins this order has that potential sales stream locked in for years.”

Industry sources say Cathay’s initial commitment is likely to cover 26 aircraft.

Cathay already operates three A340-600s on lease, as well as a mixed fleet of 777-200/300s.

Meanwhile, Tyler says that “in a couple of years” Cathay may start to look at orders for Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s and that in future the carrier will need to look at ultra-large types such as the Airbus A380 and just-launched Boeing 747-8.

NICHOLAS IONIDES/SINGAPORE

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