Cathay Pacific's new $400 million A350 flew into Auckland for the first time yesterday but faces a new wave of competition this summer as more airlines start flying here from Hong Kong and mainland China.

A senior Cathay executive says the competitive environment "will be tough for a while".

Rival Hong Kong Airlines will launch daily services to Auckland for on November 11 and mainland carriers Hainan Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will each fly three times a week from the end of the year.

Cathay's A350XWB aircraft will operate daily on the Auckland-Hong Kong route from now on until December when it will be joined by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to provide a double-daily Cathay Pacific service during the summer.


Cathay Pacific's director of sales and marketing, Dane Cheng, said the mainland Chinese carriers had experienced rapid growth in the domestic market and were now growing aggressively internationally.

Cathay was also facing increased competition from Middle Eastern airlines, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar which had expanded rapidly in the past decade.

"Everyone is expanding. It will be tough for a while," he said.

"We all do our best. We have been in this market for 33 years but that doesn't mean we are complacent."

Falling fuel prices meant airlines operating old aircraft don't need to retire them so quickly and they had become more viable, said Cheng.

"There is pressure on the yield but the good thing is the consumer benefits because the fares are getting cheaper."

Cathay had dropped some business class seats to less than $3500 return to Europe to promote the flight. The airline has 48 A350XWBs on order, with six delivered already. They are particularly well-suited to the narrow, thin routes such as Hong Kong to Auckland.

"The fact that we're putting one of our most state-of-the-art aircraft on to the Auckland route is proof that we do want to make sure that our customers are happy."


WATCH: Cathay Pacific's new airliner fly into Auckland:

Cathay Pacific's A350 - the newest model airliner to fly - has landed at Auckland Airport. The state-of-the-art aircraft was piloted by an all Kiwi crew, led by Chief Pilot Airbus Captain Gavin Haslemore and Senior Captain Colin Davis.

The A350XWB features a lower effective cabin altitude, which helps lessen passenger fatigue, and reduced noise levels, which combined with other innovations "takes our passenger experience to a whole new level."

Cheng said New Zealand had to be wary of attracting too many visitors.

"Putting on more aircraft and capacity is not the most difficult thing. The most important is to look at whether the local markets have the adequate investment in growing the infrastructure. New Zealand is a high-quality place and don't want anyone to bring too many visitors in and have a bad experience."

Cathay Pacific's newest airliner, the A350, flying into Auckland. Photo / Peter Meecham
Cathay Pacific's newest airliner, the A350, flying into Auckland. Photo / Peter Meecham

The plane, which competes with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, first entered service last year with Qatar Airways. Cathay Pacific started using the aircraft from the middle of this year. It replaces ageing Airbus A340s Cathay has been using on the Hong Kong-Auckland route.
It's the same size as a Dreamliner and has a similar look, but the A350 has a distinctive nose with a wraparound sunglasses-style windscreen. The XWB (extra wide body) is more than 10cm wider than the Dreamliner.