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HK Express to take half of Cathay Dragon’s A321neo orders

Hong Kong low-cost carrier HK Express will take 16 of 32 Airbus A321neos scheduled for delivery to sister carrier Cathay Dragon.

The Cathay Pacific Group, parent company of both carriers, says that the move comes after a “comprehensive review of its airlines’ fleets”. It calls it a fleet optimisation, aimed at “(maximising) each airline’s operational efficiency and synergy”.

Cathay Dragon will take the first 16 aircraft, scheduled to arrive between 2020 and 2022. HK Express will take the remaining 16, which will be delivered from 2022 onwards.

The 32 A321neos for Cathay Dragon were ordered in 2017 to replace its existing A320 and A321ceo fleet.

Cirium fleets data indicates Cathay Dragon operates 15 A320ceos and eight A321ceos, along with 26 A330s in its fleet. Meanwhile, HK Express operates 11 A321ceos, nine A320ceos, as well as four A320neos. It has a further five A320neos on order.

On the move to rejig the orders, Cathay Pacific Group chief executive Augustus Tang says each of its four airlines, including cargo carrier Air Hong Kong, "has its clear proposition". He also maintains that HK Express will “remain as a standalone, low-cost airline focusing on serving leisure travel destinations."

The Cathay Pacific Group has been hard hit by the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. Traffic figures for September drops across Cathay and Cathay Dragon’s passenger load factor and passengers carried. It has said that it will trim capacity growth for the rest of the year, in response to weakening demand.

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