DALLAS — Hong Kong Express (UO) has taken delivery of its first Airbus A321neo as the carrier prepares to surpass pre-pandemic levels in the next few months. This is the first of 16 examples delivered to the Cathay Pacific (CX) subsidiary over the next two years.
Two CFM International LEAP-1A engines power the aircraft and can seat up to 236 passengers. The aircraft sports a refreshed UO livery in purple and white. The new livery includes an “e” shaped journey symbol on the winglets and tail.
Toward Pre-pandemic Levels
Previously, the Hong Kong-based airline announced its commitment to returning operations to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the first quarter in 2023, including over 400 flights a week. This comes as the airline ramps up demand after pandemic restrictions were lifted in January 2023. The increase in service comes at an optimal time as the carrier’s base Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is expecting its third runway to be in operation by 2024.
As leisure travel continues to recover, UO has increased its flight frequency from 10% pre-pandemic level in September 2022 to almost 80% in February 2023. Within the next few weeks, the airline plans on operating over 400 flights each week. Furthermore, during the summer season, the airline plans to surpass pre-pandemic levels by operating over 500 flights each week.
In 2019, Hong Kong flag carrier CX took control of UO and became the Cathay Pacific Groups’ low-cost subsidiary. According to CX, the low-cost carrier will receive four A321neos in 2023, eight in 2024, and four in 2025. The delivery of the first A321neo grew the airline’s fleet to 27 aircraft, including eleven Airbus A321ceos, ten Airbus A320neos, and five Airbus A320ceos.
Comments from Airline, Airbus Officials
Mandy Ng, the CEO of Hong Kong Express, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome the first A321neo to our fleet….As an operator of the A320 Family, we are confident in the A321neo’s game-changing ability to provide more capacity with greater sustainability. At HK Express, the A321neo is key in our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment.”
Anand Stanley, President of Airbus in Asia-Pacific, commented, “Airbus is proud to extend our relationship with the Cathay Pacific Group, and this new delivery represents a new milestone in our long relationship. The A321neo’s performance and efficiency will allow HK Express to expand its network while reducing its carbon footprint.”
Cathay plans to grow UO and further its range by expanding the airline’s route network with longer flights to destinations in Singapore and Japan. Currently, Hong Kong Express serves 26 destinations, including 13 in Japan. The airline also serves leisure destinations in Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Vietnam.
Featured image: (From left) Mr. Richard Wu Chi Kwong, JP, Acting Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr. Fred Lam Tin-fuk, GBS, JP, CEO of Airport Authority, Ms. Mable Chan, JP, Permanent Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Ronald Lam, HK Express Chair, Mandy Ng, HK Express CEO and Jeanette Mao, HK Express Incoming CEO joined the HK Express A321neo Debut Ceremony today. Photo: Hong Kong Express