During the early 1990s Cathay Pacific revitalised its fleet with orders for both Airbus and Boeing products. The airline ordered six A340-300s in 1993 but leased four A340-200s, originally destined for Philippines, to fill the gap until their arrival. The four frames were registered VR-HMR-U and arrived from October 1994 to April 1995. They saw service on long thin routes such as Rome, Zurich, Melbourne and Auckland. All four aircraft left the fleet from November 1996-March 1997 and joined Philippines on lease from Airbus. HMR became F-OHPF. All four only saw three years of service before release to Aerolineas Argentinas where OHPF became LZ-ZPO. All four aircraft served from mid 1999 until 2014 with the last aircraft withdrawn in September.
Cathay itself didn't receive its own A340-313Xs until June 1996 when VR-HXA arrived. She was joined by year end by VR-HXB-E. The next year the fleet continued to grow with VR-HXF but there was then a break until February 1998 when five more aircraft B-HXG-K were delivered (HXG was in Oneworld colours) for a total A340-300 fleet of 11 aircraft. Three extra aircraft were leased from Air China in October 1999 for a two year period and wore the registrations B-HMX-Z. A last new build A340 was delivered and registered B-HXL in January 2001 but Cathay wasn't finished adding more examples of the type albeit second-hand. Three unwanted Singapore Airlines 'Celestar' A340s began joining in June 2001. They were registered B-HXM-O.
The author had the chance to fly on 2 CX A340s (B-HXD and HXN) in June 2006. Above is the latter at LHR.
The A340 certainly surpassed the short 777-200 in Cathay service and the type has seen service across the airline's entire network. The original 777-200 only garnered four orders (VR-HNA-D) which were delivered in November 1995-May 1996. A fifth aircraft, the first aircraft built and the ex-Boeing demonstrator, was added in 2000 and registered B-HNL. The airline was however the launch customer for the longer 777-300 taking the first aircraft delivered (as launch customer) in May 1998. The metamorphosis of the stretch 777 has meant the end of the A340 orders however.
Above photo taken by Author at HKIA through very reflective glass in June 2006.
Although Cathay took three A340-642s on lease from November 29, 2002, and was the Asian launch customer for the type, the aircraft (B-HQA-C) served for only about 7 years before being returned to their lessors. Cathay instead chose to base its future long haul fleet requirements around the 777-300ER and has recently taken delivery of its 50th example of the type. They have not only replaced the A340s but also the airline's 747-400s.
In March 2015 11 A340s remained in service and Cathay had just signed an agreement to gradually sell the aircraft to AerFinUK Ltd. The final A340 services are still however not scheduled until sometime in 2017.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: