Aviation article(s)
June 11, 2024

The Cathay Group will soon put back in service its 85th and final aircraft parked overseas.


After nearly four years in the Australian desert, Cathay said its 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 Cathay Group's aircraft to be parked overseas for long periods on July 28, 2020, as global air travel came to a near-standstill during the COVID-19 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 a rigorous series of maintenance checks and inspections to ensure safety and performance.


Alex McGowan, chief operations and service delivery officer, said parking and reactivating so many aircraft is a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking—with the scale and complexity never 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," McGowan said.


"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."


"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."


McGowan noted that with Cathay's fleet now fully reunited, the 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," he said.


"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."


Bob Taylor, general manager of engineering operations, noted that an aircraft in long-term parking requires a defined programme of maintenance checks and inspections 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," he said.


Cathay noted that 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 800,000 labour hours were spent on 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.

Verification Code: