Cathay Pacific will be out to prove good things do come in small packages when it launches its state-of-the-art Airbus A321neos and new regional business seat next month.
The 202-seat, fuel-efficient plane is set to take off on its inaugural flight to Shanghai (Pudong) on August 4 and will be the first to showcase the new regional business seat as well as 4K ultra-HD personal video screens.
Cathay has already taken delivery of four A321neos and plans to have 16 flying by the end of 2023 to destinations.
It intends to deploy the planes on flights to Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Kaohsiung and Taipei during August.
The aircraft’s 12 next-generation regional business seats feature a hard shell recliner product that provides what the airline describes as “a cocoon like feel” with divider screens for maximum privacy.
They come with 15.6-inch 4K screen, a world first, as well as Bluetooth audio streaming that is being introduced progressively to all cabins and will allow customers to watch Hollywood blockbusters in ultra-HD using their own Bluetooth headphones.
The 190 economy class seats feature 11.6-inch 4K screens along with a generous recline, comfortable seat cushions and new adjustable headrests.
The airline is promising new and enhanced IFE content selection it says will provide one of the biggest movie and TV libraries on a regional single-aisle aircraft.
High-speed WiFi is also being progressively introduced and the aircraft features 60 percent more space in extra-large overhead storage bins.
“We’re incredibly excited to see our next-generation A321neo take to the skies for the first time next month as we continue to add more passenger services in the region,’’ Cathay chief executive Augustus Tang said in a statement.
“The single-aisle A321neo is the newest addition to our fleet and has been designed and fitted with an array of new features that offer the most enjoyable short-haul experience in the world to our customers. We look forward to deploying A321neos on more regional routes and welcoming customers on board.”
The A321neos will also help the environment with an expected 22 percent reduction on CO2 on a per seat basis compared to previous A321s and 15 percent less noise.
The new planes are a cause for celebration for a carrier hard hit by the COVID pandemic.
June traffic figures released this week continued to reflect substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
The 40,651 passengers carried in June was an increase of 50 percent compared to the same month last year but down 98.7 percent on June 2019.
The airline carried an average of 1355 passengers per day but on June 25 carried 2011 customers, its biggest day so far for 2021.
“We continued to progressively add more passenger services, resuming flights to Guangzhou, Seoul, Brisbane, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vancouver and San Francisco,” commercial officer Ronald Lam said.
“Capacity significantly increased by about 131 percent compared to May 2021; however, we still operated only about 8 percent of our June 2019 pre-pandemic capacity.
“Our recently resumed flights serving the Chinese mainland experienced particularly
noteworthy demand, especially transit traffic to various long-haul destinations.
“We also saw increased demand from Taiwan and some Southeast Asian destinations.”
Cargo operations fared better with 109,423 tonnes carried last month, an increase of 17.4 percent compared to June 2020, but a 33.3 percent decrease compared with the same period in 2019.