Airbus A350 XWB – Photo by jmiguel rodriguez CC 2.0

Recently, to the disappointment of the Hong Kong spotting community, it was announced that the delivery of Cathay Pacific’s first Airbus A350 XWB would once again be delayed. Their first A350 (c/n 029) of the 46 that they have on order successfully completed its maiden flight at Airbus’ testing facility in April with test registration F-WZFX and is still waiting to be fitted with seats before it will be delivered to Cathay as B-LRA.

Both delays are due to issues with the manufacture of Cathay’s long-haul business class seats that will be installed on the aircraft. The majority of the blame lies on French manufacturer Zodiac Seats, who have been severely behind-schedule in their production and have been receiving plenty of (justified) criticism from Airbus and Boeing for delaying deliveries. Cathay Pacific is also guilty of making last-minute adjustments to the design of their business class seats that have complicated matters and slowed production.

The delivery and passenger launch of Cathay’s Airbus A350 was originally scheduled for mid-February, but was later pushed to late-April. Once it became clear that such a deadline could not be made, the delivery date was once again delayed and set for mid-May. It’s too early to say whether we can expect another delay (which would be absolutely ridiculous), but Cathay believes that they will be able to receive 12 Airbus A350’s by the end of this year.

Cathay’s original plan for the first A350 was to initially operate it on short routes to popular destinations in Asia for crew familiarization before deploying it on the select long haul routes (for example the newly-launched Hong Kong to London Gatwick)  that they were intended for.