Melbourne has welcomed Australia’s first scheduled Airbus A350-1000 passenger flight, with Cathay Pacific CX105 touching down in the Victorian capital a few minutes before 1200 local time on Sunday.
The inaugural service, operated by B-LXK, covered the 3,989nm journey between Hong Kong and Melbourne in a little under nine hours.
Cathay Pacific has switched one of its three daily Melbourne-Hong Kong rotations from the A350-900 to the A350-1000.
The type has been scheduled to operate the CX105 departing from Hong Kong at 0005 and arriving in Melbourne at 1210 local time, and the CX104, which takes off from Tullamarine at 1535 and lands back in Hong Kong at 2145, according to flight schedules from the Cathay Pacific website.
Cathay Pacific has also added Perth to its A350-1000 network with its seven of its 10 Perth-Hong Kong flights a week service upgauged from the A330-300 to the next generation widebody.
The first A350-1000 flight to Perth, the CX171 operated by B-LXA, took off from Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport a little after 1600 local time on Sunday and landed at Perth Airport just before midnight about seven and a half hours later.
The aircraft was on the ground for about 80 minutes before operating the reciprocal CX170 back to Hong Kong in the early hours of Monday morning.
Cathay Pacific regional general manager for south west Pacific Rakesh Raicar said the airline was proud to be the first to fly the A350-1000 to Australia.
“At Cathay Pacific, our passengers remain our top priority. The launch of this aircraft will allow us to deliver further enhanced features that improve the comfort and overall travel experience of our guests,” Raicar said in a statement on Sunday.
Cathay Pacific serves five destinations in Australia from its Hong Kong hub – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – with a mix of Airbus A330-300s, A350-900s, A350-1000s and Boeing 777-300ERs offering business, premium economy and economy. This does not include freighter services.
The airline did previously serve Cairns. However, those flights have ended.
The A350-1000 represented a significant capacity increase compared with the A330-300 and A350-900.
The aircraft has been configured to carry 334 passengers comprising 46 in business in a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for every passenger, 32 in premium economy at eight abreast and 256 in economy with nine seats per row.
This was 54 more seats than the airline’s 280-seat A350-900s (38 business, 28 premium economy and 214 economy), and 83 more seats than its three-class A330-300s, which offer 39 business, 21 premium economy and 191 economy seats for a total of 251.
And while the A350-100 had only four more seats than three-class 340-seat Boeing 777-300ERs (40 business, 32 premium economy, 268 economy), the Airbus widebody had a higher proportion of business class seats.
Currently, Cathay Pacific has utilised all available capacity for Hong Kong flag carriers to Australia’s four major gateways of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney under the current bilateral air services agreement between the two countries.
As a result, it has sought to expand in Australia through upgauging to larger equipment.
Cathay Pacific was the second airline in the world to fly the A350-1000s when it took delivery of the first of 20 on order in June 2018.
VIDEO: A look at the making of Cathay Pacific’s first Airbus A350-1000 from Airbus’s YouTube channel.