Cathay Pacific's brand new Airbus A350-1000 has landed in Hong Kong as the airline prepares to use it on its longest route - a 17 hour flight to Washington DC.

The plane was formally handed over to Cathay at the plane maker's delivery centre in the southern French city.

The 12-hour delivery flight had just 70 passengers on board and Captain Ewan Summerfield said the aircraft had performed well.

'This has the feel of a Jumbo or a 777 - a very large airplane,'' he said followng the flight.

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The new aircraft is the first of 20 of the extended fuselage model of the A350 family and Cathay will use it to bolster its long haul flying as it expands its network.

Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo said: the entry of the 1000 and 22 earlier model A350-900s had allowed the airline to
to expand its long-haul network at a near unprecedented rate.

In just two years, Cathay Pacific has opened non-stop routes to a slew of
destinations served by the A350 fleet, including Barcelona, Brussels, Christchurch over summer, Copenhagen, London Gatwick, Tel Aviv, and, most recently, Dublin. .

The Washington service starts in September

A new A350-900 service to Cape Town will be launched in November.

The A350 XWB (extra wide body) is claimed to be the world's most modern and efficient aircraft family, offering fuel saving of 25 per cent on comparable earlier model planes.

In February Airbus brought a trial -1000 aircraft to Auckland but it is now entering service, with Cathay Pacific due to use it on trial regional routes from next month.

The delivery ends an eight-year process for Cathay, which first ordered the -1000 in 21010, finalised the cabin layout in 2015 and saw test flights last month.

The fuselage is 7m longer and has up to 40 per cent more space than its smaller sibling, the A350-900.

How Cathay Pacific's A350-1000 was built.

Engines are also more powerful on the new plane. Two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines generate 90,000 pounds of thrust each, 13,000 pounds more than the earlier plane. Rolls has had trouble with some of the Trent engines powering Dreamliner's but have avoided problems with the engines powering Airbus XWBs.

The bigger engines mean the take-off weight can be 316 tonnes, almost 40 tonnes more than the earlier plane. This allows for extra cargo, critical to Cathay's global operations. It can hold 14 cargo pallets, three more than the -900. This can add up to 5.5 tonnes of cargo

Before taking delivery of an aircraft and signing the transfer of the title, the Cathay carried out a complete and detailed check, including flight tests where the aircraft is pushed beyond typical limits for when passengers are on board.

The delivery phase is spread over four to eight days on average, dependent upon the aircraft programme. The money was paid by Cathay Pacific three days early, the undisclosed sum turning up in the Airbus bank account on Friday