Cathay Pacific Airways is to further expand its Airbus widebody fleet, with a firm order for an additional three A330-300s. Deliveries of the new aircraft, to be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700s, are scheduled to begin next year.

The Hong Kong-based carrier currently operates 20 A330s and 15 A340s across its international route network, and is among the largest A330/A340 operators today. The airline operates the twin-engine A330 on regional and medium-haul routes across its extensive Asia-Pacific network, while the four engine A340s are deployed on ultra long-haul routes to Europe and North America.

Prior to the delivery of the three additional A330s, Cathay Pacific will also take delivery of the first of three long-range Airbus A340-600 aircraft later this year for use on ultra long-haul routes to Europe and North America.

Cathay Pacific was the first airline in the world to have established a mixed A330/340 fleet operation, fully exploiting the unique common design concept pioneered by Airbus. Sharing the same cockpit layout, operational procedures and handling characteristics, the aircraft are operated by Cathay Pacific as a single fleet, with pilots qualified to fly both types on a regular basis. Further benefits are also achieved through streamlined maintenance procedures as a result of the high level of common on-board systems and airframe components shared by the A330 and A340.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chairman David Turnbull said: "Because Cathay Pacific managed itself carefully during the downturn we are now able to plan for a better future. This is an investment in the future of Cathay Pacific and its staff, and underlines our confidence in the future of Hong Kong and our continued effort to strengthen Hong Kong as the region's leading aviation hub."

"This follow-on order from one of the world's most prestigious and forward looking international carriers once again endorses the popularity of the A330 and A340 in their respective market segments; and illustrates the benefits which can be achieved through mixed fleet flying operations," said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard.

Cathay Pacific's selection of the A330 further reinforces the success of the A330/A340 Family as the preferred choice of airlines worldwide in the medium to long-range segment, with over 700 total orders from 60 customers at the end of March. The A330/A340 Family has been especially successful in the Asia-Pacific, with 180 orders from 16 airlines, including almost every major international carrier in the region.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain, as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is a joint EADS Company with BAE SYSTEMS.