Cathay Pacific to slim down premium economy

Cathay Pacific is to slim down its premium economy capacity.

The news might suggest the product has failed in Asia, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Although the Hong Kong airline has yet to officially confirm the news (at least to the UK media), a report in the Sydney Morning Herald reveals the cutback will occur only on medium-range A330s serving Australian routes.

It means that the size of the premium economy cabin on Cathay’s larger capacity aircraft — like the B777-300ERs that ply longer routes between Hong Kong, Europe and North America — will remain unchanged.

The carrier’s A330 premium economy zones accommodate 28 passengers. By removing seven premium economy seats it will find space for an extra 16 economy class ones.

So why is Cathay doing this? One reason is that there is a need for extra capacity on the Sydney route now that Virgin Atlantic no longer flies there from Hong Kong.

In addition, there is not much product competition from Qantas. The latter only offers premium economy out of Sydney to Hong Kong but not on its other two services into Hong Kong from Melbourne and Brisbane.

Finally, many travellers patronising Cathay into Australia are VFR (visiting friends and relatives), for whom a low price is all important.

But more relevant news to those passengers taking the kangaroo route is that Cathay will upgrade one of its four daily Sydney flights from an A330 to a larger B777-300ER.

The move takes effect in December, just in time for peak travel to down under. Initially, the larger plane will operate three-times weekly but the service will become daily from February.

In particular, passengers travelling through from Europe to Sydney will appreciate the upgraded product.

In June, Cathay announced that it had started trialling an online auction service allowing passengers to bid for seat upgrades (see news, June 20).

Alex McWhirter

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  • It still surprises me that Cathay choose not to offer any First class seating to Australia. Straight away they lose these passengers, willing to pay extra to competition, unless you are looking for direct Australia – Hong Kong only where there are no other direct flights offering First.

  • Hello first_class_please

    You make a good point re first class. But Australia is not considered a high yield destination by Asian airlines and that is why most do not offer first class.

    Main exception is SIA into Melbourne and Sydney but SIA only provides first class on a few flights – usually those which connect with long-haul services at Singapore.

    Cathay Pacific’s B777-300ER is not scheduled to have first class.

    The timings for Cathay’s B777-300ER flights in December will be:

    CX139 depart Hong Kong 0850, arrive Sydney 2100.
    CX138 depart Sydney 2220, arrive Hong Kong 0500.

  • Why is this an “upgrade”? Yes, it’s a larger aircraft but are the service and seating any different in J?

  • Hello SGJNI1961

    Fair point. Although the B777-300ER does offer a wider cabin it’s up to you, the reader, to decide which is the better aircraft in all three classes.

    But the B777-300ER is Cathay’s flagship aircraft so therefore I would view its utilisation on the Sydney route to represent an upgrade.

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