Johannesburg - Cathay Pacific has become the first airline to take delivery of a reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER - one of the new genre of fuel efficient aircraft.
At $284.1m (about R2bn) each, it is a major investment and the airline, one of the world's most profitable, has ordered another 28 of these aircraft.
Frosti Lau, country manager in South Africa for Cathay Pacific, said the new aircraft are important for the airline's future plans.
"Airlines have to plan ahead far in advance and have to order suitable aircraft in time to support their future plans."
Lau said a new, third runway being planned for Hong Kong international airport as well as Cathay Pacific's plans to grow and expand its current network of operations mean the airline has more than enough work for the new planes.
"Besides expanding, we also need to constantly replace older aircraft to renew our fleet."
Boeing says that if an airline orders a new 777 today, the earliest it can expect delivery is in 2015.
Boeing spokesperson Carrie Shiu said Boeing is building seven of these aircraft per month.
"Due to the massive demand, we are currently adapting our systems to increase the output to 8.3 planes in the next few months."
Shiu said the 777 has already proven itself against its competitors.
"The plane uses less fuel, emits less CO2 and can fly much longer distances more often than the competition." The ER in the name stands for extended range.