Cathay Pacific chief executive Ivan Chu says there may be enough of a first class market in Australia for the airline to consider offering its top cabin product on some flights to Sydney.
Currently, all of Cathay’s Australian services are operated with aircraft featuring a three-class cabin of business, premium economy and economy.
For Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane that means an all-Airbus A330-300 schedule, while the oneworld alliance member uses a mix of A330s and three-class Boeing 777-300ERs to Sydney.
Chu says the airline is open to looking at introducing first class Down Under at some stage with four‐class Boeing 777‐300ERs.
“We are conscious that maybe there is a first class market for Sydney,” Chu told the August edition of Australian Aviation magazine.
“In time maybe we will. But at the moment our four‐class 777‐300ERs are now very much engaged and employed already to Europe and North America.”
Cathay has utilised all available traffic rights for Hong Kong-based carriers to Australia’s major gateway cities of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney under the current bilateral air services agreement between the two countries.
Therefore, any move to add first class on a route such as Sydney would likely involve a reduction in capacity, given Cathay’s four-class 777-300ERs have 275 seats (six first, 53 business, 34 premium economy and 182 economy), compared with 340 seats for example on three-class 777-300ERs (40 business, 32 premium economy, 268 economy).
Cathay was not expected to offer first class on the 22 Airbus A350-900s and 26 A350-1000s on order. The airline has also ordered 21 Boeing 777-9Xs.
The only airline to offer first class between Sydney and Hong Kong is Qantas during seasonal periods when the Flying Kangaroo used its Airbus A380 on the route.
Chu indicated Cathay was also interested in adding additional freighter services to Australia.
(Read more from Cathay Pacific chief executive Ivan Chu in the August edition of Australian Aviation, on sale now.)