Snuggled among the details in a long, detailed, and well-worth reading analysis of the airline’s prospects, the Centre for Aviation, CAPA, reports that Cathay Pacific will fly its new A350XWBs to European destinations including Copenhagen, London Gatwick and Madrid.
“Cathay has been on a long haul expansion streak, opening six markets over 18 months. Europe is a focus as Cathay has been under-exposed on the continent compared to peers including Air China and Singapore Airlines,” CAPA states.
I saw the fuselage of one of Cathay Pacific’s A350s from afar, on the production line in Toulouse earlier this year, but the company is being very secretive about the cabin product.
Speaking to Toby Smith, General Manager, Product, Cathay Pacific, this August, I got only impressions of what to expect inside the new aircraft.
Smith could not discuss the details.
Despite the intrigue, I came away from the conversation expecting a number of “Cathay tailored” elements straight from the Airbus catalogue. I believe we’ll see a re-dressed catalogue Economy product, and possibly an updated version of the airline’s existing long-haul premium product. This falls in line with A350 buyers so far following Airbus’ advice not to over-complicate (and possibly delay) their A350 programs.
Still, Cathay could surprise. Even if they don’t, they will delight.
The A350 cabin is flyer-friendly, with hard and soft cabin features that help passengers enjoy the experience of flying. Monuments are discreet. The cabin is light and spacious. Mood lighting makes everything better. The aircraft’s environmental controls are state-of-the-art, and you couldn’t ask for a quieter flight. The only concern might be that you can better overhear other passengers’ conversations.
On my short trip onboard Qatar’s A350, to the Pyrenees and back, last Christmas, I was impressed by the roominess, discreet overhead bins and large windows.
The abundant natural light those windows allow in the cabin can easily be capitalised on by Cathay’s existing cool and neutral cabin colour scheme.
Coupled with Cathay’s commitment to service, this long-haul journey should be a pleasure. Of course, competition will be tight. Finnair plans to fly its new A350s to Asia too, with service starting this October.
With Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, SAS and TAP Portugal all due to bring the A350 experience to the skies, added to a host of competitors around the world, many which also fly to the continent, Europeans will soon be spoiled for choice fort that special A350XWB flight.