As Cargo Facts has been predicting for several months, Cathay Pacific Airways, Air China, Air China Cargo (in which Cathay is a 49% stakeholder), and Boeing have formalized an agreement that will see a massive shakeup of the two carriers’ fleets. We will update this post as more details become available, but in brief, this is what has been agreed to:
- Cathay placed a firm order for three more 747-8Fs
- Cathay canceled its order for eight 777Fs. Pre-delivery payments on the 777Fs will be applied to the 747-8F order
- Cathay acquired options to purchase five 777Fs at a future date
- Boeing has agreed to purchase four 747-400BCFs from Cathay
- Air China Cargo placed a firm order with Boeing for eight 777Fs, with delivery to take place 2013 through 2015.
- Boeing agreed to purchase seven 747-400BCFs from Air China Cargo
- Air China placed firm orders for two 747-8I (pax version), one 777-300ER, and twenty 737-800s
The net effect of these agreements (once all the aircraft involved have been delivered) will be to leave Cathay with a twenty-five-unit freighter fleet made up of thirteen 747-8Fs, six 747-400ERFs, and six 747-400Fs. For its part, Air China Cargo will have a modernized fleet that includes three 747-400Fs and eight 777Fs.
Of course, it is possible the two carriers may sell, retire, or return to the lessor some of their 747-400Fs as the newer freighters enter their fleets. No announcement has been made on that subject, but Cathay’s notice to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is worded in a way that suggests Air China Cargo will end up with an all-777F fleet. (We also point out that Air China Cargo currently operates two 747-400BDSFs, but these are leased (from Guggenheim Aviation Partners) rather than owned, and will likely be returned to the lessor when their contracts expire.)