Aviation Cathay Pacific's new "passenger-pleasing" Perth-Hong Kong A350

Photo of Geoffrey Thomas

With higher cabin humidity for a more comfortable flight and better fuel efficiency, the new Airbus service maintains Cathay Pacific's reputation as an industry leader, says our aviation expert.

Cathay Pacific’s first Airbus A350 service to Perth touched down recently, replacing the smaller A330 on the airline’s daily late-evening service to Hong Kong.

The A350 — like the Boeing 787 — is state of the art, with a composite fuselage and wing and passenger-pleasing features such as higher humidity, which gives the effect of being at lower altitude. 

The new wing design and carbon-fibre fuselage combine with system improvements and fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines to deliver a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn over the A330.

This latest Airbus has vertical side walls and bigger windows that make the 280-seat aircraft seem even bigger than it is.

There are also outsize luggage bins big enough to take roller bags on their side and Airbus says the cabin is 50 per cent quieter than older aircraft in terms of perceived noise.

Cabin features such as mood lighting with millions of colours, and liquid crystal displays where the seatbelt signs normally would be should also contribute to passenger comfort. Cathay Pacific has configured its A350 cabin to have 38 flat beds in business class, 28 seats in premium economy and 214 in economy class.

The excellent business class is in a reverse 1-2-1 layout providing aisle access to all passengers with each seat angled away from the aisle and surrounded by a shell to ensure maximum privacy.

Storage spaces provide room for articles such as shoes and there’s a pocket specifically designed for smartphones.

The flat bed extends to 190cm and has an extension cushion designed to support the knees when sleeping on your side by adding extra width to the bed.

Premium economy seats are 20 inches wide with a 40-inch pitch and a nine-inch recline.

Cathay Pacific has an excellent economy class on the A350 with an 18-inch wide seat and pitch of 32 inches.

Much change has been made to a new-look menu which has moved from traditional Chinese cuisine to more modern dishes.

In-flight entertainment includes the updated and comprehensive Studio CX system which caters for all ages and nationalities, there’s live streaming of CNN and BBC news networks, 3-D maps and views outside the plane. The aircraft is wif-fi enabled and this costs $US9.95 for one hour’s continuous access, $US12.95 for flights of six hours or less and $US19.95 for longer flights.

Through its Hong Kong hub, Cathay Pacific offers West Australians connections into 20 destinations in China, six in Japan and 14 in Europe, including London, Paris, Dublin, Rome and Barcelona. North American destinations include New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver.

The airline operates numerous flights between Perth and New York’s JFK Airport with a trip time of about 25 hours.

Cathay’s fleet now numbers 126 passenger aircraft and 20 freighters made up of Boeing 777s, Boeing 747Fs, A330s and A350s.

The airline has 19 A350s in service with another 27 on order. 

Also on order are 21 of the yet to fly Boeing 777-9.

Cathay Pacific has been serving WA since 1970, when it offered once-weekly Convair 880 flights.

That hot rod of the sky later gave way to the Boeing 707, Lockheed Tristar, Boeing 747 and then the Airbus A330.

The new A350 takes passenger comfort to a new level and is sure to maintain the airline’s reputation as an industry leader.

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