Cathay Pacific says it's 'very happy' with its Boeing fleet, despite recent 737 Max crash

Key Points
  • Despite recent controversy surrounding aircraft manufacturer Boeing after Sunday's crash of a new 737 Max Ethiopian Airlines plane, Cathay Pacific's CEO said Thursday it is "very happy" with its Boeing fleet.
  • Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia", Rupert Hogg said the Hong Kong-based carrier's fleet has an almost equal number of Boeing and Airbus aircrafts — but does not fly the controversial 737 Max.
  • Hong Kong's aviation authorities also temporarily banned the popular planes with effect from Wednesday.
Cathay chief: We're trending in the 'right direction'

U.S. plane manufacturer Boeing has been mired in controversy since its 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

Despite recent safety concerns surrounding the 737 Max 8, Cathay Pacific's CEO said Thursday he was "very happy" with the Hong Kong-based carrier's Boeing fleet.

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia," Rupert Hogg said  "about 50-50" of the airline's fleet is made up of Boeing and Airbus planes — namely, the Boeing 777, Airbus A350 and A330. The airline does not fly the Boeing 737 Max.

"It is a tragedy, but we're very happy with both sets of aircraft that we have," Hogg said, in reference to Sunday's deadly crash.

The fatal accident involving Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 — which killed all 149 passengers and eight crew members — comes less than five months after the same model plane operated by Indonesia's Lion Air crashed shortly after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 on board.

A Boeing 777-367(ER) passenger plane belonging to the Cathay Pacific taking off at Hong Kong International Airport on August 08, 2018.
Marcio Rodrigo Machado | S3studio | Getty Images

From Europe to Asia to the United States, aviation regulators around the world have grounded fleets of the Boeing 737 Max, as airlines scrambled to calm travelers' nerves. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cited links between the two fatal accidents on Wednesday. 

Hong Kong's aviation authorities also temporarily banned the popular 737 Max planes with effect from Wednesday.

Amid the rising concerns, Hogg emphasized that "safety is the number one priority in our industry."

"The induction of any new aeroplane is part of a safety management system and a safety management plan, and it's very, very vigorous, and it starts very early on," he said.

For the new Boeing 777-9X that Cathay Pacific is planning to roll out as part of its future long-haul fleet, Hogg said the airline is "already in discussion on every aspect of that aircraft joining our fleet, with Boeing and others at the moment."