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The end of December 2013 marks an historic moment for Cathay Pacific Airways as it bids farewell to its Boeing 747-400s flying on the route between London and Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific is proud to have one of the youngest fleet in the world and has announced that it will be replacing the Boeing 747-400s with the fuel efficient and environmentally beneficial Boeing 777-300ER at the end of this year on its London route.
The advent of the Boeing 747 opened up a whole new range of possibilities for global travel, and in February 1978, Cathay Pacific took the plunge by making its first direct order for the 747-200 series from Boeing.
At the time, engineering director Stewart John was tasked with scrutinising the engines on offer to go with the new purchase, eventually settling on Rolls-Royce.
Cathay Pacific became the launch customer for the 747-200B with Rolls-Royce RB211 engines, and a whole new era began when Cathay Pacific’s VR-HKG aircraft took its first commercial flight on August 3rd 1979.
Cathay Pacific started to make use of the latest technology with its computerised reservation system and flight simulators.
The first Boeing 747-200 arrived in Hong Kong in mid-1979, and by the end of the year, the airline had applied for traffic rights to start flying to London.
As more B747s joined its fleet, Cathay Pacific expanded its services to Europe and North America.
The 1980s was subsequently a spectacular decade for the airline industry – amid a worldwide economic boom, spearheaded by Asia – more business travellers, tourists and cargo were flying than ever before.
During this decade, Cathay Pacific expanded its international network to include London, Brisbane, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Rome, San Francisco, Paris, Zurich and Manchester.
Eighteen years after Cathay Pacific was founded, it celebrated carrying its millionth passenger.
Nine years later, in 1973, it carried one million people annually.
Today, the airline carries approximately one million passengers each month.
The announcement comes after Hong Kong’s home carrier made significant product enhancements over the last three years, having consulted with its Marco Polo members and other customers.
This has included introducing a new long-haul economy, premium economy, award-winning business class as well as a refreshed first-class cabin.
Significant ground product developments have also been made in Cathay Pacific’s flagship airport lounges, including The Wing, The Pier and the introduction of the Bridge in Hong Kong.
In addition, in 2013 Cathay Pacific introduced its fifth flight between London and Hong Kong providing 35 flights per week - further demonstrating Cathay Pacific’s commitment to serve key long-haul markets around the globe with multiple frequencies offering maximum customer choice.
Roberto Abbondio, head of sales and marketing, Cathay Pacific, said: “The Boeing 777-300ER is a superb aircraft that has already significantly enhanced our operations on key long-haul routes, and we are delighted to be introducing it for all of our flights between London and Hong Kong
“We have been very impressed by the operating economics of these aircraft, while their high efficiency has resulted in a reduced environmental impact.
“As we continue to enhance our fleet, the 777-300ER will play a crucial role in our operations in the years to come.
“We are committed to giving passengers more reasons to choose Cathay Pacific, and are proud to offer customers not only added flexibility and convenience when travelling to Hong Kong and beyond into the Far East and Australasia, but also one of the newest fleets in the world.
“This is just one of the many latest developments for the airline; we have also increased frequencies on routes from Hong Kong to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.
“Through our sister airline Dragonair, we have also added new routes into mainland China, as well as Da Nang in Vietnam, Yangon in Myanmar and Chiang Mai in Thailand, to name just a few.”
Cathay Pacific retired three out of its 21 747-400 in 2012, whilst six more will have exited the fleet by the end of 2013.
The remaining 12 747-400s and 11 A340s will be progressively retired throughout this decade, depending on the traffic growth, and financial viability in light of the rising fuel prices.
These are very productive aircraft but they will be replaced by more cost efficient aircraft joining the fleet in the coming years.