Hong Kong’s Cathay Group, parent of Cathay Pacific Airways and low-cost carrier HK Express, has confirmed the purchase of an additional 32 Airbus A320 neo-family aircraft as it continues to invest in expanding and modernising its fleet.

The agreement doubles the Cathay Group’s total orders for the A320 neo-family to 64 aircraft, of which 13 have already been delivered for regional services.

The 32 additional aircraft will comprise both the A321 neo and A320 neo which will join the fleets of Cathay Pacific and HK Express.

They will principally serve destinations in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Currently, Cathay Pacific deploys the A321 neo on routes including to Phnom Penh, Kaohsiung, and to destinations in Vietnam.

These aircraft come in a two-class configuration, with a 2-2 layout in the upfront premium cabin. This, by experience, is a very tight fit that involves significant twisting and contorting to reach the aisle if you are sat in a window seat and thus leaves a bit to be desired, especially when compared to the 1-2-1 configured business class on the A330-300 aircraft Cathay used to deploy on many of the routes now earmarked for A321 neo service.

Nevertheless, in Airbus’ communications confirming the 32 additional A320 neo-family aircraft for the Cathay Group, the manufacturer touts the A320 neo-family as “a positive passenger comfort differentiation”.

“Cathay is one of the world’s leading airline Groups and we are proud to be part of its recovery and growth plan.

Operating out of the Cathay Group’s base at the heart of Asia, the A320neo family will enable it to expand its services across the region with a most efficient single aisle fleet and a positive passenger comfort differentiation. With a significant reduction in fuel consumption, the aircraft will also bring an immediate contribution to the Cathay Group’s sustainability goals,” said Airbus chief commercial officer and head of international, Christian Scherer.

By July, Cathay was close to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels, and the airline said it was on track to achieve its target of 70 per cent covering 80 destinations by the end of this year.