On Tuesday, Cathay Pacific increased its service to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), starting an additional three-time-a-week flight. The carrier is using its new flagship: Airbus A350-900. The Hong Kong-Vancouver daily route, exclusively served with a Boeing 777-300ER, will operate still.
The additional flight increases the overall to 17 flights a week and increases seats to 87,360. Craig Richmond, President & CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority said he’s “thrilled to not only celebrate Cathay Pacific’s increased frequency and continued success at YVR, the first Canadian arrival of the fantastic Airbus A350-900.”
As he stated, this is the first regular scheduled A350 service to Canada since the delivery, “it is exciting to see the continued growth of this route and opportunities that stem from it as YVR works towards building a world class sustainable gateway between Asia and the Americas.”
“Vancouver was the airline’s first destination in North America with our then state-of-the-art Boeing 747-200 aircraft being the first airline to fly non-stop between YVR and Hong Kong, so it is fitting that nearly 34 years later, we are the first airline to debut the industry’s newest aircraft, the exciting Airbus A350-900 in North America,” said Philippe Lacamp, Cathay Pacific Senior Vice President, Americas. “Even better, the Airbus A350-900 helps us deliver on our promise of a ‘Life Well Travelled’ with our latest three-class cabin product, enhanced in-flight entertainment system and Wi-Fi connectivity.”
For Cathay Pacific, Vancouver was the perfect route for the carrier to launch the new fuel-efficient aircraft by the increasingly needs of both the airline and the airport to be greener. The airline has configured its A350-900 with 280 seats in a three-class configuration. The aircraft features a Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy Class which offers more space and comfort with panoramic windows and LED mood lighting.
It has 38 Business Class seats in a 1+2+1 layout, 28 Premium Economy seats in a 2+4+2 layout, and 214 Economy Seats in a nine abreast 3+3+3 layout. The Business Class seat is supplied by Zodiac, which has been noted as having quality control issues on the Cathay Pacific A350 fleet; this was reported by frequent flyers on social media platforms. However, everything looked up to par on the A350 that came to Vancouver.
The seats include a 18.5” personal TV, which is three inches bigger than the personal TV featured on the 777-300ER.
Also Premium Economy has an increased recline, from 8” to 9” with full-length leg rest and a larger personal TV that went from 11.1” to 12.1”.
Economy seats are actually thinner: 18” instead of the regular 18.5”, however, both only have 6” of recline. One improvement made, though, was a larger personal TV in Economy Class that went from 9” to 11”.
The Airbus A350-900 has also provided an opportunity for Cathay Pacific to prove itself again as a leader in airline eco-innovation. The cabin carpets and passengers’ blankets are made from recycled plastic and nylon, including plastic bottles and salvaged fishing nets that are otherwise a hazard for marine life.
Cathay Pacific’s entire A350-900 fleet is equipped with gate-to-gate Wi-Fi that will set flyers back $19.95. If you only need an hour of Wi-Fi, Cathay offers that for $9.95.
So far, Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of 12 of the 22 A350-900 orders, it expects to receive its remaining 10 by the end of 2017. Overall Cathay Pacific has 48 Airbus A350’s on order.
The other 26 A350’s the Hong Kong-based carrier has on order are for the larger A350-1000. With certification testing currently underway in Toulouse, the carrier expects to receive its first six in 2018, followed by ten in 2019 and 2020. It is unknown which are the carrier plans for those yet.
Qatar Airways is expecting to take the first Airbus A350-1000 delivery later this year, following the manufacturers’ test flight campaign that kicked off on November 24, 2016. Cathay Pacific and ten other carriers with orders for the type anxiously await the larger A350 that will see an increased capacity of 40 seats, compared to the A350-900.
The A350 was launched as a response to the Boeing 777, unlike the misconception that it’s a direct competitor to the Boeing 787; both types are made primarily with carbon fiber. Many carriers worldwide like Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, United Airline and LATAM have found that the two types can actually complement each other very well and can work together in fleets to deliver the proper amount of seats and fuel efficiency.