Cathay Pacific Airways has signed a contract with Airbus for three additional A330-300, plus three further A330-300s from US leasing company ILFC, expanding the Airbus widebody fleet at the airline. Deliveries of the new aircraft, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, are scheduled between 2005 and 2007.

Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific already operates one of the largest Airbus fleets in the Asia - Pacific region, with 23 A330-300s, 15 A340-300s and three A340-600s currently in service. The airline operates its fleet of A330-300s on medium range regional routes, as well as on longer sectors to Australia. The A340-300s and A340-600s are deployed on ultra long-haul non-stop routes linking Hong Kong with destinations in Europe and North America. The A340-600s will inaugurate daily non stop services between Hong Kong and New York in July 2004.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chairman David Turnbull said: “The addition of six more A330s ties in with our plans to grow the airline and shows our continued commitment to Hong Kong. The aircraft will be used to provide more services in the coming years, strengthening our network and at the same time helping to enhance Hong Kong’s status as a leading global aviation hub. We will also be able to provide more job openings for local people.”

Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard said: “It is remarkable how Cathay Pacific has dealt with the enormous challenges over the past 12 months. I am delighted to see this prestigious airline enjoy a dramatic recovery in business and select more A330-300s to match future traffic growth across the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.

“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’s latest order 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 800 total orders from more than 60 customers. The A330/A340 Family has been especially successful in the Asia-Pacific, with more than 200 orders from 18 airlines 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 an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.