Cathay Pacific has announced today that its new A350 aircraft will start flying on the Auckland-Hong Kong route from the end of October.

The new generation aircraft will replace the airline's Airbus A340s that are used on the route.

Mark Pirihi, Cathay Pacific country manager in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, said the A350-900 XWB would be a major draw card for Kiwi travellers looking for a more comfortable long-haul flight experience.

The airline took delivery of the first of the planes on Sunday and unveiled it at a ceremony in Hong Kong on Monday night.


Cathay has 48 of the aircraft on order and the planes long range will enable it to expand its route network.

New technologies aboard the A350 include WiFi internet for passengers on their personal devices that can be bought for USD$19.95 on flights longer than six hours.

All passengers also have free access to the BBC, CNN, and Euronews live satellite television channels from their entertainment system.

The plane's business class lie flat seats are longer than on its existing planes and the more vertical side walls of the fuselage mean there is more width in cabins throughout the plane.

It has 38 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats and 214 seats in economy.
The aircraft makes extensive use of carbon fibre in its wings and fuselage so is stronger and lighter than the aircraft it replaces.

The airline says the aircraft is 50 per cent quieter due to the new Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines.

Like its rival the Boeing 787 Dreamliner it is able to have a higher cabin pressure supplies more oxygen to lower the effective cabin cruising altitude from 8000ft on current aircraft types to 6000 ft, reducing passenger fatigue.