Cathay to return to London Gatwick with A350?

Cathay Pacific is set to announce an A350-900 service to London Gatwick, Business Traveller understands.

The airline currently operates five daily flights from Hong Kong to Heathrow.

It would add a sixth London service to Gatwick due to limited slots at LHR, in a move that would mark the first time Cathay has flown to LGW since 1993.

Cathay Pacific A350-900

In August, Cathay began canvassing opinion from frequent flyers on the route.

The same month, the CAPA Centre for Aviation reported: “Cathay… flagged the A350’s opportunity to open new routes, including the European destinations of London Gatwick (supplementing existing five daily London Heathrow service), Copenhagen and Madrid.”

Now, in an interview with Flight Global, Rupert Hogg, Cathay’s chief operating officer, said: “The -900s will primarily be targeted at helping the airline open new points in Europe, and to add a second or third frequency to existing destinations such as Milan and Amsterdam.”

When Business Traveller contacted Cathay Pacific for comment, the airline would not confirm the date that it will take delivery of the A350 (it is February), where its first destination will be (Auckland), when Cathay stopped flying to Gatwick (1993) and whether it will fly to Gatwick (we think it will).

The carrier did send the following statement: “Cathay Pacific is always looking for opportunities to strengthen our flight operations between Hong Kong and Europe to provide even better flight frequency and connectivity for leisure and frequent business travellers.”

Subsequently, a spokesperson added: “The A350 fits perfectly into our operation. Its passenger capacity, payload range and operating economics allow the aircraft to become the backbone of our mid-sized long-haul wide-bodied fleet.

“The fleet also makes it possible for Cathay Pacific to launch and operate direct flights to second-tiered destinations in Europe, hence further expanding our global network connectivity and more choices to customers.”

Gatwick, meanwhile, said it could not comment.

The new Gatwick route may have become more attractive to Cathay as a result of its new deliveries of A350-900 aircraft. It has fewer seats to fill than the Boeing 777 and is more fuel efficient.

Cathay has 22 A350-900s and 26 A350-1000s on order. The first of the A350-900s will arrive next year and will feature a three-class configuration with 38 seats in business (1-2-1), 28 in premium economy (2-3-2), and 214 in economy (see news, March 18).

The first route for the A350-900 has been confirmed as Auckland and other possible routes include Dusseldorf (currently served by a B777-300ER – see news, September 4), Perth, and perhaps Manchester.

Since British Airways is moving from the North to the South Terminal in November 2016 to make way for Easyjet (see news, January 23), it seems likely that Cathay will also be using the South Terminal so it can use the BA lounge which will open there. BA’s lounges in the North Terminal will shut in January (see news, September 22).

Cathay’s first flights to the UK were to London Gatwick in the 1980s and it withdrew from the route in 1993.

Tom Otley

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  • Why are CX able to send 5 flights/day, yet BA only manage 2? I know they ran a third for a while (a day flight as I recall) but it didn’t last.

  • The latest news on BAs move to the South terminal looks as though it will not happen until March 2017. As for Cathay using the “BA Lounges”….there is only going to be one lounge, a Galleries, no First is planned. The Heathrow offering for Cathay premium passengers will be significantly better.

  • Thank you – I’ve taken the plural away from the new (yet to open) lounge(s).

    You may be right, I suspect, about the Heathrow operation, but of course that’s for the future, since Cathay shuts its lounges at Heathrow this Thursday and won’t open them again until Summer 2016.

    “Cathay Pacific First and Business Class lounges at London Heathrow Airport are closed for renovation from 26 November 2015 and will be reopened in late June 2016.
    We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

  • Wonder why Cathay were being so obtuse about confirming information, especially the already-known publicly available info.

  • I wonder why your mock-up illustration of the A350 is using the Lander livery and not the recently announced revision which loses the nose strap and red line and “frees” a simplified brushwing in an all Jade tail.

  • Have Cathay stipulated whether the BA T3 lounges or the AA T3 lounge is going to be the designated lounge for its customers while its lounges are closed?

  • Jamesbusinesstraveller, it doesn’t matter unless you are Marco Polo silver and not travelling in a premium cabin. Anyone else who has lounge access can use any oneworld-operated lounge, whether getting access through status or by premium travel – so they will have the choice of AA or BA (or both) regardless of which Cathay designate

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