Cathay Pacific's Delivery of New Airbus A350 Delayed, Chief Says

  • Handover of wide-body jet put back toward end of first half
  • Interiors specialist Zodiac has struggled to meet schedules

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Asia’s biggest international airline, said the delivery of its first Airbus Group SE A350 model will be delayed.

The airline doesn’t expect any major delay and is preparing to receive 12 aircraft from Airbus this year, Chief Executive Ivan Chu said in Hong Kong Thursday.

The Hong Kong-based airline was due to get the wide-body jet by February, but will now receive it closer to the end of the first half because business-class seats aren’t ready for installation, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News Wednesday. The A350’s business berths are made by Zodiac Aerospace, which has been struggling to meet delivery schedules.

Cathay Pacific has ordered more fuel-efficient planes including the A350 and Boeing Co. 777X as the Hong Kong-based company takes on carriers including Singapore Airlines Ltd. amid a surge in passenger traffic within the region. Chief Executive Ivan Chu also faces increased competition from carriers in mainland China that are expanding on the inter-continental routes.

Increased competition has adversely impacted Cathay’s passenger yields, a key measure of profitability. The company hasn’t fully benefited from lower fuel prices due to its hedging policies. Chu reiterated the carrier’s commitment to fuel hedging as a tool for risk management at a briefing in Hong Kong Thursday.

Zodiac Difficulties

Airbus, whose Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier has singled out Zodiac as causing difficulties on the A350, saying it won’t be invited to bid on the re-engined A330neo, said in an e-mail that the first plane destined for Cathay “is at an advanced stage of production” and that talks are underway to “finalize the delivery time-line.”

Zodiac said Wednesday it couldn’t immediately comment on the Cathay Pacific situation.

Airbus has also experienced unrelated difficulties in delivering its latest A320neo model, postponing the initial handover due in December to Qatar Airways Ltd. after the carrier expressed concern about engine issues. Deutsche Lufthansa AG took its first jet this month and has another due mid-February, though Qatar has yet to receive an aircraft.

— With assistance by Clement Tan, and Andrea Rothman

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