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Cathay Pacific leaves door open to ultra-large airliners, despite big twinjet deal

While Cathay Pacific has decided that the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 will become the core of its fleet, the door is still open to a potential future deal for the ultra-large A380 and 747-8I. Airbus remains convinced that the Hong Kong airline will one day buy its double-decker.

Cathay says that its decision to have the A350-900 and 777-300ER "at the core" of its long-haul fleet follows "a thorough evaluation of our requirements as we approach the retirement of the 747-400 and A340-300". Cathay, which operates 15 A340-300s and 22 747-400s, adds that it does not plan to replace the entire fleets of these two types with the new aircraft, but "only the older ones". These orders will also be used to accommodate fleet growth.

Cathay Pacific A340
 Cathay Pacific is to retire its older A340s, replacing them with A350-900s and 777-300ERs

The airline is guarded about the status of any ultra-large aircraft order discussions, saying only that is not currently considering a deal for either type "but we continue to evaluate our fleet development needs".

With Airbus forecasting that Hong Kong will be the world's number one hub for movements of ultra-large aircraft over the long term, it remains convinced that Cathay will eventually become a customer for the type.

"It is a question of timing. Looking at the big picture, I'll bet that in five years' time Cathay will have ordered by then," says A380 marketing chief Richard Carcaillet.

"It's up to us to an extent, and it's up to them to make the move - but they know they need the aircraft. It's down to commercial discussions and fleet planning."

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