Cathay Pacific has put the Airbus A350 at the heart of its future long-range fleet plan in a $4.2 billion deal with Airbus. Already an A350 customer, Cathay has made a radical revision to its existing orders, swapping some of its planned A350-900 aircraft for the new A350-1000 version and buying more -1000s.

This move effectively makes it the first customer for the higher weight and longer range A350-1000 launched by Airbus last year.

Before now, Cathay held orders for 36 A350-900s. It has converted 16 of those into A350-1000s and ordered 10 additional -1000s for a future fleet of 46 aircraft (20 -900s, 26 -1000s) owned by the airline.

Cathay also will add two leased aircraft to its A350 fleet. The first A350-900 will be delivered in 2016, with the first -1000 following in 2018.

Airbus says the A350-1000 order is worth $3.2 billion at list prices and the conversion from -900 to -1000 are worth a further $1 billion.