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Cathay to squeeze more seats on B777-300 plane in earnings push

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Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, the premium airline that is seeking ways to revive earnings after its first annual loss in eight years, plans to cram more passengers in some aircraft to squeeze out extra revenue.

[SINGAPORE] Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, the premium airline that is seeking ways to revive earnings after its first annual loss in eight years, plans to cram more passengers in some aircraft to squeeze out extra revenue.

All 65 of its Boeing 777-300 family aircraft will have another seat in each economy-class row, shrinking space for fliers by about an inch, Asia's biggest international carrier said in an emailed statement Friday.

The change will result in a 3-4-3 configuration, in line with the industry standard adopted by many premium carriers, although legroom would remain the same, it said.

The reconfigured planes, to be introduced between mid-2018 and 2020, "will in part help enable the airline to deliver on its goal of growing capacity by 4-5% per annum when the capacity of Hong Kong International Airport is constrained," Cathay said in the statement.

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The marquee airline has embarked on its biggest corporate revamp in two decades, which involves job cuts and changes to mid and senior-level management, after aggressive expansion by mainland Chinese carriers hurt the Hong Kong-based operator.

Chairman John Slosar told reporters on March 15 that Cathay needs to become better, lower cost, more agile in terms of how it approaches the market.

To make up for the smaller width, Cathay said it will offer "new ergonomically-designed" seats with thicker, customised cushioning, while its long-haul 777-300ER aircraft will have wider-screen, higher-resolution personal TVs.

The South China Morning Post earlier reported on the planned changes to the aircraft.

The legroom will remain at 32 inches, while the width of the seats will shrink by as much as 1.3 inches to 17.2 inches, Cathay said. Currently, the aircraft have a seat width of 18.2 inches and 18.5 inches respectively, according to industry data tracker SeatGuru.com.

Cathay has 48 of the 777-300ER long-haul jets and 17 of the 777-300 regional planes. It reported a net loss of HK$575 million (S$103.263 million) for 2016.

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