Cathay

Cathay Pacific welcomes back its last aircraft from long-term overseas parking

After nearly four years in the Australian desert, Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A330 registration B-HLV returned to Hong Kong, where it will now undergo an extensive hangar maintenance check.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 The Cathay Group celebrated the completion of one of the most unprecedented undertakings in its 77-year history when on 6 June 2024, it reactivated the 85th and final aircraft to be long-term parked overseas. After nearly four years in the Australian desert, Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A330 registration B-HLV returned to Hong Kong, where it will now undergo an extensive hangar maintenance check. B-HLV was the first of the Cathay Group’s aircraft to go into long-term parking overseas on 28 July 2020, as global air travel came to a near-standstill during the pandemic.

At the height of the pandemic, Cathay Pacific and HK Express had to park the majority of their passenger fleet at Hong Kong International Airport and overseas in Alice Springs, Australia and Ciudad Real, Spain. As the pandemic began to subside, the Cathay Group commenced the progressive reactivation of these aircraft. This involved the performance of a rigorous series of maintenance checks and inspections to ensure safety and performance.

Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer Alex McGowan said: “Parking and reactivating so many aircraft is a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking, the scale and complexity of which has never been seen before at Cathay. ​ An incredible amount of work goes into keeping an aircraft safe and protected when it isn’t flying, and to then reactivate it for entry back into regular service. To do this for more than 85 aircraft long-term parked overseas, as well as to manage the large number of aircraft that were parked in Hong Kong, is a phenomenal achievement. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department for their invaluable support throughout this process.

“Our teams in Hong Kong and around the world have been instrumental in ensuring our most valuable assets were well looked after, overcoming challenges together with positivity and determination, and embodying Cathay’s ‘can-do’ values. I am immensely proud of their incredible efforts as we reunite our last aircraft from the desert with the rest of our fleet and close a truly remarkable chapter in Cathay’s history.

“With our fleet now fully reunited, our focus is firmly on investing for the future. The Cathay Group has more than 70 new aircraft on order, with the right to acquire an additional 52 aircraft in the future. We are also exploring options for a new mid-size widebody aircraft. These investments reflect our ongoing confidence in the Hong Kong international aviation hub as we look ahead to the exciting opportunities presented by the Three-Runway System at Hong Kong International Airport when it is fully commissioned by the end of this year.”

General Manager Engineering Operations Bob Taylor said: “An aircraft that is in long-term parking requires a defined programme of maintenance checks and inspections that are repeated over a regular cycle to ensure it’s preserved in tip-top condition. When it comes to reactivating the aircraft, a rigorous series of checks and inspections must first be accomplished to ensure the aircraft is safe to ferry back from its overseas parking facility. The aircraft then needs to undergo a further series of detailed checks and inspections as part of its scheduled hangar maintenance check.”

Each aircraft that was long-term parked in Alice Springs underwent a 14-day preservation check when it first arrived that was then followed by a repeating series of periodic inspections and checks. Over the course of the parking programme in Alice Springs, more than 16,000 of these periodic checks were performed, and a total of 800,000 labour hours were spent performing preservation, periodic and reactivation maintenance.

Furthermore, over 40,000 parts and items of specialised equipment were also shipped from Hong Kong to support the Alice Springs operation. Meanwhile, the Cathay Group’s onsite Quality Assurance team conducted more than 2,000 audits.

Bob Taylor added: “It was truly a team effort that required the support of many departments within the airline as well as key partners including Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO), Boeing and Airbus, and the local service provider in Alice Springs, Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS). To manage this body of work across an unprecedented number of aircraft was an incredible achievement by the team, of which I am immensely proud.”

Cathay

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