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Along with Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific has one of the top economy class products flying between North America and Asia. In addition to good food, solid in-flight entertainment and excellent service, the carrier’s 777 are currently configured on the spacious side for standard economy — with 32 inches of pitch and 18.5-inch wide seats.
As more airlines are configuring their 777s to install 10 seats across, Cathay Pacific’s 9-abreast arrangement has become increasingly better by comparison. Sadly, Cathay Pacific is planning to even the score a bit. In an interview with South China Morning Post, Cathay Pacific CEO Ivan Chu Kwok-leung confirmed that the airline is “moving towards” re-arranging its 777s to have ten seats per row in economy.
Similar to Emirates’ move to stuff 615 passengers on an A380, it seems that this move is intended to allow the airline to carry more passengers each year without increasing the number of slots at busy airports. Although it’s one of the busiest airports in the world, Cathay Pacific’s hub Hong Kong (HKG) has just two runways. The South China Morning Post reports that these runways are “operating at almost 100 percent capacity every day.” Indeed, Chu explains:
“Slots are very scarce,” Chu said. “We want to generate more seats per slot, that’s the key thing. That’s why we are doing it. It’s very important we do it.”
However, moving to ten-abreast in economy could also be a move to squeeze more revenue out of each flight. Cathay Pacific has recently been struggling financially, with revenue down to 2009 levels and decreasing profits.
No matter the reason, our hope is that the reconfigured aircraft would be used primarily on Cathay Pacific’s regional routes — rather than the long-haul flights between North America and HKG. After all, it’s much easier to put up with narrower 17-inch seats for a 1-3 hour flight than on a 16-hour haul.
Fortunately, premium cabin flyers can breathe a sigh of relief. As of publishing, Cathay Pacific has no announced plans to add more seats to its impeccable first class cabin or top-notch business class cabin.
H/T: JonNYC on Twitter
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