Cathay Pacific has confirmed that it will take delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 in Toulouse on 27 May, after several push backs from an initial delivery schedule of February.
The airline made the disclosure on its monthly magazine CX World, adding that this will be the first new type to enter the airline's fleet in 20 years.
The aircraft will perform its first revenue flight on 1 June to Manila, and operate daily services to Manila and Taipei, until the second A350 arrives in July. Thereafter, the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered widebody will be deployed on services to Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Osaka Kansai.
The Oneworld carrier will put its A350s on regional services for three months, before using them on long-haul operations from September. So far, 80 of its pilots have completed the required A350 training.
Cathay says overcoming the delay, which was caused by "a business class seat issue", has been a "huge challenge" for its engineering team. Zodiac Aerospace is the supplier of its business class seats.
“The key challenges have been for the supplier to meet a stringent set of seat certification requirements and overcome seat production issues,” says Cathay's head of A350 project Bob Taylor.
He adds that though the certification issues have largely been resolved, the airline is maintaining a full presence at the supplier’s facilities to ensure a stable supply of seats to Airbus, so that subsequent aircraft can be delivered to Cathay according to schedule.
The Hong Kong carrier is planning to add 22 -900s to its fleet over the next two years, followed by 26 A350-1000s from 2018 through to 2020.