Global insight

A Cathay B777-300 passenger aircraft with the airline's new livery

Hey presto! Cathay turns aircraft into windows and doors . .

BUSINESSES and governments spend untold sums of money convincing the public/electorate of their green credentials.

Of course, most people can spot a large dollop of PR rhetoric when they hear it, but when presented with what appears to be a convincingly bona fide set of data from, say, car emissions tests, it is not so easy, as German car-maker VW recently discovered, writes Thelma Etim.

No amount of burnishing and slick buzzwords can make up for a company which claims to be concerned for the environment – along with the human beings and animals that inhabit it – from being transparent in this area.

Cathay Pacific is raising the bar.

One of Cathay Pacific's A340s, undergoing dismantlingOne of Cathay Pacific's A340s, which will be recycled


Like most airlines that want to remain competitive, the Asian carrier is doing away with its aged aircraft to usher in brand new ones. Out will go the faithful A340-300s – they will be a distant memory after 2017 – and in will come the quieter, more fuel-efficient de rigueur A350s in the first quarter of next year.

But what separates the Hong Kong carrier from those competitors that believe that just purchasing new aircraft qualifies as a full contribution to the environment, is the fact that Cathay’s retired aircraft are to be recycled into window and door frames.

Cathay has entered into a deal with UK company AerFin, which manages engine disassembly, storage and distribution of aviation inventory, among other things, and four of Cathay’s A340s will be transferred to a facility in south-west France for a three-step recycling process, which begins with the decommissioning of the aircraft and ends with the dismantling and cleaning of parts, such as engines and landing gear, before being conveyed to recyclers.

Aluminium constitutes up to 40 per cent of most aircraft and can be melted down and re-used in the construction industry for doors, windows, or for other industrial sectors, such as aerospace and car manufacturing.

James Tong, director of corporate affairs at Cathay Pacific underscores: “We are very pleased with the results so far, with up to 90 per cent of the weight of each aircraft being recycled and less than 10 per cent going into landfills as waste.”

It’s Cathay’s enterprising new window on the world.

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