Cathay Pacific (CX) took delivery of a Boeing B777-300ER over the weekend, the third aircraft with new business class seats to join its fleet since February.
The launch aircraft, an Airbus A330-300, was deployed to the Hong Kong-Sydney route, and the second, a B777-300ER, was assigned to the four times daily Hong Kong-New York service as has been this latest acquisition.
CX’s new chief executive officer, John Slosar, who headed the group which picked up the B777 at the Boeing plant in Everett, Seattle, told Business Traveller that the non-stop New York flights were generating strong feedback since being increased from one to four daily runs from March 27, 2011. “Based on this, we’re thinking of adding another (daily) flight.”
He attributed the success of the service to Hong Kong’s enduring reputation as a world financial hub. “It has raised more capital dollars than anywhere else in the world, creating this bond between itself and big banks and financial companies in New York.”
With CX a major player in boosting Hong Kong’s competitive edge, Slosar highlighted their current efforts at fleet revitalisation. “Cathay Pacific and (our subsidiary) Dragonair always aims to do well, especially in first and business class, and one of the reasons we launched the new business class seat was we wanted a product that would really attract customers to travel with us.
“With business travellers, if you don’t get them the first time, they won’t come back. And that’s a big failure. We want them to come back again and again and again.”
The new business class cabin made its debut in a splashy presentation last December (see story here) before an audience of 3,000 guests, a number of whom had raised concerns about the previous business class product (still available on B747s and A340s) for reasons such as being “claustrophobic”.
Slosar described their latest product – a labour of two and half years – as “a really good bed, much better seat, private and still spacious”. Initial feedback, he said, “has been positive, with customers telling us that we’ve got the right balance”.
Four more new B777-300ERs with the same amenities are expected to arrive throughout the year, with more to be delivered in the years following. From January 2011, CX’s existing B777ERs and A330s will also be retrofitted. These aircraft types are among the fastest and most fuel efficient in the market today, and thus, in great demand by airline operators.
In two years’ time, all of CX’s long-haul flights will offer the improved seating. However, its B747s will continue to offer the old business class seats. “Since they are due for retirement, it wouldn’t make sense to put in the new product,” Slosar said.
On the question of premium economy, Slosar said the trend was certainly heading in that direction, “Of course, we have been doing some work on it…and if we come to do it, we will do it well and make sure it’s a Cathay standard of high quality and good value”
For Business Traveller’s review of CX’s new business class seats, click here.
For more on Cathay Pacific, visit www.cathaypacific.com
Margie T Logarta