The airline has hired Porsche Design Group to craft its new business class seats, codenamed ‘FB3’ as it will be Cathay’s third flatbed business class.
Also on the roster is London-based Tangerine, perhaps best known as the former home of Apple design guru Jony Ive, which is responsible for new economy seats.
In addition Tangerine has won a ‘tip to tail’ brief to design the cabin interiors for all four classes on the Airbus A350.
A spokesman for the airline confirmed to Australian Business Traveller “we are working with the companies mentioned” but declined to comment further.
The first of Cathay Pacific’s order of 20 mid-size Airbus A350-900 is slated for delivery in early 2016 and will sport a three-class configuration with business, premium economy and economy class.
CX: "We can't afford to stand still"
Speaking to Australian Business Traveller in late 2012 Toby Smith, Cathay’s General Manager, Product, said that while the airline was “very proud” of its current business class seat, “it’s going to be just over three years before our first A350-900 delivery in early 2016 and a lot can happen in a competitive marketplace.”
“We can’t afford to stand still, and our competitors don’t stand still either. So we’re continuing to look to see whether there are further enhancements, essentially something new we might deliver in FB3.”
Airlines have adopted lie-flat beds, direct aisle access and increased personal space as the cornerstones of ‘state of the art’ business class, putting pressure on Cathay Pacific which is widely considered as having the world’s best business class seat.
Increasing the stakes is the wave of orders for new aircraft designs such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9, and from 2020 the Boeing 777X. Airlines often align the debut of new seats to the launch of their impressive new flagships.
Cathay Pacific is likely to roll out a new first class for the larger A350-1000 jets, of which it has 26 on order from 2018. However, the spokesman told Australian Business Traveller “we have not begun work on first class yet and no decisions of any sort have been made.”
Cathay’s current first class was launched in 2007 but underwent a mid-life refresh on the airline’s Boeing 777-300ERs last year, although the project didn’t extend to the soon-to-be-retired Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets.