Airbus lands giant Cathay Pacific order

Image caption, Robust passenger and freight demand lifted Cathay's profits

Cathay Pacific has announced plans to buy 36 new aircraft, valued at about HK$75bn (US$9.6bn; £6bn).

The Hong Kong carrier has signed a deal with Airbus to purchase 30 A350-900 planes, which it described as "a perfect fit" for its fleet.

It also said it intends to exercise existing purchase rights in respect of six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

The plans to expand came as Cathay reported an eight-fold increase in first-half net profit to HK$6.8bn.

"Our passenger and freighter schedules have been restored almost to their pre-downturn levels," chairman Christopher Pratt said.

"If present trends continue, we expect our financial results to continue to be strong in the second half of 2010."

Cathay said the Airbus aircraft would form the backbone of its future mid-size wide-body fleet.

The Boeing planes will be used in the airline's ultra-long-haul and long-haul fleet.

The purchases help move Cathay towards its goal of boosting its fleet by more than a third.

Cathay shares, which have risen 24% so far this year, rose 4.3% on Wednesday.

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