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Cathay Pacific has entered into a letter of intent with the Airbus Company to buy 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The airline has also expressed its intention to exercise existing purchase rights in respect of six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, according to a Transport Weekly.com report.

The report cited the Shipping Gazette saying the total value of the intended aircraft purchase is about USD$9.66 billion (NZD$13.59 billion). This is a sum in addition to the significant investment Cathay Pacific will make between now and 2013 that includes aircraft already on firm order and the new cargo terminal at Hong Kong International Airport.

The letter of intent with Airbus relates to the purchase of 30 Rolls Royce-powered Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The new A350 XWB (Extra Wide Body) will form the backbone of Cathay Pacific’s future mid-size wide-body fleet, with the 30 new acquisitions being delivered between 2016 and 2019.

The A350-900 variant is capable of flying over 8,000 nautical miles non-stop, which will enable Cathay Pacific to operate the aircraft across its route network, including on non-stop flights to Europe and North America.

Two new generation Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines will power the aircraft and the A350 XWB will enable Cathay Pacific to benefit from the lowest operating costs of any aircraft in its size category.

Cathay Pacific chief executive Tony Tyler said: “The A350-900 is a perfect fit for the development of our fleet. A mid-size, long-haul aircraft that is fuel efficient, environmentally friendly and provides the kind of capacity, range and operating economics that we need to complement and enhance our existing fleet.

“The 30 new aircraft will be deployed to replace older aircraft and grow our fleet to meet the challenges of the future.”

Separately, Cathay Pacific intends, subject to the satisfactory outcome of negotiations with the Boeing Company, to exercise existing purchase rights in respect of six General Electric-powered Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in addition to the 30 aircraft of this type that the airline already has on firm order.

Eighteen 777-300ERs have already been delivered and are in operation with the remaining 12 arriving by 2013.

The Hong Kong-based airline currently operates a fleet of 128 wide-body aircraft including 25 freighters.

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