Stories by Howard Slutsken

CORRESPONDENT - VANCOUVER, BC. Howard's lifelong passion for aviation began when he was a kid, watching TCA Super Connies, Viscounts, and early jets at Montreal's Dorval Airport. He’s based in Vancouver, BC, so when Howard isn’t writing, he’s probably plane-spotting at YVR, PAE, BFI or SEA.

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Cathay Pacific's first A350 from HKG to YVR is ready for a tug to pull it to the gate

Almost 35 years ago, Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) began its international expansion to North America, flying a Boeing 747-200 from Hong Kong (HKG) to Vancouver, BC (YVR). It was the first airline to fly nonstop between the two key Pacific Rim cities, and on Tuesday morning, Cathay Pacific introduced a new aircraft type on the route.

The airline’s Airbus A350-900XWB, B-LRI, touched down in the pouring rain just after sunrise, almost an hour ahead of its 8AM scheduled arrival time. I was with the media group, set up on the south ramp for the A350’s expected arrival on YVR’s Rwy 08R. But just a few minutes before landing, the plane’s approach was changed to the north runway, 08L.

Western Canada’s first scheduled Airbus A380 service began on Sunday evening, with the arrival of British Airways flight BA85 at Vancouver International Airport. YVR is the airline’s only Canadian A380 destination, and is one of only nine city-pairs worldwide served by one of British Airways’ eleven megajets.

The A380 replaces British Airways’ daily London-YVR Boeing 747 service for the summer season. “This is a terrific market for us, it does tremendously well, so the A380 just perfectly suits the market” says Robert Antoniuk, British Airways VP Customer Service and Operations, North America West & Mexico. “This flight is absolutely full to capacity today.” The four-cabin A380 has a total of 469 seats, a significant jump from the 345-seat 747 it replaces.

Air New Zealand's "Pleased to Seat You" truck on display in Terry Fox Square in Vancouver.

Air New Zealand is in the midst of refurbishing its Boeing 777-200ER fleet, and is showcasing the planes’ new Premium Economy and Economy Skycouch seats during a North American “Pleased to Seat You” tour.

The seats are on display in a 26 foot, 5 ton, glass-walled truck that will cover more than 7,000 miles, giving the public a chance to see and sit in the -200’s new seats. The airline introduced the innovative Skycouch in its Boeing 777-300s – the footrest in a row of three seats can be positioned at the same height as the seat cushions, giving a flexible space for passengers.

With the update of the -200s, all of the long-haul aircraft in Air New Zealand’s fleet will include the Skycouch, along with the new Premium Economy seats also found in its Boeing 787-9s.