Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong International) is optimistic its first B777-9s will ferry into Hong Kong in 2025, according to notes to its 2023 financial results handed down last week. The airline has 22 of the type on order and says it expects delivery of two next year.

In addition to the B777-9s, Cathay expects to take delivery of another four A321-200NX this year. Delivery timelines are also firming up for a further 40 aircraft in 2026 and beyond, including the remaining nineteen B777-9s on order and the A350Fs.

At the end of 2023, Cathay Pacific's fleet comprised 181 aircraft, of which 137 were owned, 24 were at the carrier on finance leases, and 20 on operating leases. The fleet included two A321-200s, twelve A321-200NXs, forty-three A330-300s, thirty A350-900s, eighteen A350-1000s, six B747-400ERFs, fourteen B747-8Fs, seventeen B777-300s, and thirty-nine B777-300ERs

CEO Ronald Lam said the airline had focused on rebuilding and investing throughout 2023. By the end of the year, Cathay's passenger operations were back to 70% of pre-pandemic levels, and cargo operations were at 85% of pre-pandemic capacity. Last year the carrier ordered thirty-two A321neo and A320neo(with options for a further 32), in addition to a pre-existing order for thirty-two A321neo. Cathay has also ordered six A350Fs, with options for another 20.

"In total, this brings our new aircraft on order to more than 70, with the right to acquire an additional 52," Lam said. "We are also exploring options for a new mid-size widebody aircraft."

The airline will return three B777-300ERs to lessors this year, two A330-300s and two B777-300ERs will be handed back in 2025, as will two A330-300s and four B777-300ERs in 2026. In addition, two A350-900s have leases expiring in 2028.

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific has swung back into the black for the first time since Covid-19 struck, reporting a net profit of HKD9.8 billion Hong Kong dollars (USD1.25 billion) for calendar 2023. It is the carrier's best financial result since 2010 and contrasts with the previous year's loss of HKD6.6 billion (USD840 million).

Separately, subsidiary HK Express (UO, Hong Kong International) reported a 2023 net profit of HKD433 million (USD55.35 million), while Air Hong Kong (LD, Hong Kong International) posted a net profit of HKD778 million (USD99.45 million). Lam said, however, that their financial performance is under pressure as the benefits of higher volumes are more than offset by higher interest expenses. Cathay Pacific and HK Express expect to be at 80% of pre-pandemic capacity by the end of this month and 100% by the end of March 2025.