Cathay Pacific Welcomes First A350, Launches Enhanced Cabins

Cathay Pacific Airways today welcomed the arrival of its first Airbus A350-900 jet in Hong Kong. Registered B-LRA, the sleek composite jet touched down at Hong Kong International Airport at 0753 hrs following its delivery flight from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France.


The Oneworld member becomes the third Asian airline to operate the advanced wide body aircraft, of which it has 48 on-order (split between the -900 variant and the larger -1000 variant) to form the mainstay of its medium-/long-haul fleet. Each jet is configured in a 3-class layout, with the airline introducing enhanced products for Business, Premium Economy and Economy Classes.


Business Class: Evolution over Revolution

Rather than adopting a new seat, Cathay Pacific has improved on its popular, reverse herringbone long-haul business class by working with Studio F.A. Porsche to further modify the Zodiac Cirrus-based product.


Sporting a more refined look, the hallmark features of direct aisle access, privacy and a full-length flat bed are retained, with each passenger now also benefiting from improved seat pitch (45 inches vs 43 inches), a larger 18.5-inch personal screen and a tray table that now slides towards or away from the seat, allowing for better access when in-use.


The airline has also given more knee space on both sides when in bed mode, achieved through a fold-up panel on the aisle side and a cushioned storage bin lid on the other, which replaces the previous storage nook. Other improvements include a redesigned side panel that now features a larger vanity mirror and netted pocket, a water bottle holder under the armrest and more intuitive seat controls.


Premium Economy: Improvements All-Round

Cathay Pacific’s premium economy offering onboard the A350 represents a marked improvement over its current-generation seats.


Passengers will notice the increased sense of space, with seat pitch boosted to 40 inches and a 9-degree recline, as well as a padded leg rest at every seat. Between each seat pair is a central console with storage space for tablets and smaller laptops, as well as the seat controls, inflight entertainment controller, electrical outlets and USB ports. The shared cocktail table is complemented by swing out trays that can be positioned adjacent to or in front of the console for more space, accentuated on the aisle-facing side by armrests that can be lowered.


The seatback screen has also been beefed up with a 12.1-inch unit (compared to 10.6/11.1 inches on the rest of the fleet), although passengers who prefer the content on their personal devices can do so with a thoughtful flip-down tablet stand that doubles as an additional storage nook. An adjustable and dimmable reading light is cleverly tucked beneath the headrest instead of the more traditional position beside it.


Economy Class: Subtle Enhancements

Spread 3-3-3 across the cabin, the new economy class seats on the Cathay Pacific A350 gain subtle improvements over the current generation product.


The 18-inch wide seat comes with a 6-way adjustable headrest and a flip-down tablet stand below the 11-inch seatback monitor, conveniently situated near USB ports to supply continuous power for personal devices. The split-folding tray table offers more legroom for passengers, making the seat feel more spacious than its 32-inch seat pitch.


A New StudioCX and Onboard Wi-Fi

StudioCX, the airline’s inflight entertainment system, receives an enhanced interface that now includes a ‘do-not-disturb’ and ‘wake-up call’ function, live satellite television (BBC World News, CNN and Euronews) and external views from the aircraft cameras. In a first for Cathay Pacific, the jets will also be equipped with inflight internet, available to passengers from USD 10 to USD 20.


The Hong Kong-based carrier will next place its A350 into revenue service on selected flights to Manila from 1 June 2016 and crew familiarization runs to Bangkok, Singapore and Taipei before long-haul services. Confirmed destinations for the type include London (Gatwick) and Düsseldorf.


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