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Cathay to replace or upgrade poor quality A350 business seats

Cathay Pacific will replace all the business class seats on some of its Airbus A350s and undertake extensive modifications on others, due to "seat and surface finishing defects."

The carrier tells FlightGlobal that the business class cabins in its early A350s are "most affected" by this problem, caused by early production line cosmetic quality issues. These seats are supplied by Zodiac Aerospace, and the aircraft have been flying with Cathay for less than a year. There have however been reports of poor fit and finish on the seats, with some latches on storage boxes broken.

"The seats on affected aircraft... will be subject to extensive upgrades as early as is practically possible," the Hong Kong carrier discloses. "For a number of aircraft, there will be a complete swap of all business class seats, while others will undergo extensive modification with the base seat retained."

The modifications are primarily concerned with the build quality, but there will also be some detail changes to the materials, it adds.

"The process requires considerable logistics and coordination and we expect this to commence in Hong Kong before the summer," says Cathay. It expects the seat replacement in each aircraft to take approximately two to three weeks, and pointed out that the change does not require a safety recertification.

Cathay says Zodiac has since enhanced the production process of the seats while also implementing a series of modifications to the seat design so as to "improve quality and reduce variation".

"The commercial agreement between Zodiac Aerospace and Cathay Pacific covers a number of aspects relating to seat quality and deliveries but the details of this are confidential," it adds.

Asked if there have been other issues with its A350s, the carrier says it is working with Airbus on a range of in-service improvements to the aircraft's lavatories, "which is a high priority for all A350 airline customers".

"Our priority at this time is focused on our business class seats in the A350 and we have no plans at this stage for further cabin modifications."

Cathay adds that it will take delivery of all its A350-900s by the end of the year. It currently has 13 of the type in service, with a further nine on order.

Zodiac has been affected by production issues in its seat operation factories in Gainesville, Texas and Santa Maria, California. Problems with the production of lavatories for the A350 have also been a cause of delivery delays for the programme.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Cathay's A350s have 38 seats in business class, 28 in premium economy, and 214 in economy, for a total of 280 seats.

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