CATHAY Pacific Airways is set to order a new-generation ultra-long haul aircraft type following a weekend accord that gives it access to as many as 14 cities in the United States. General manager of airline planning John Slosar said Cathay would be evaluating in the coming months whether the tentatively launched Airbus Industrie A340-8000 or the Boeing 777-100X would be best suited for the expected new services to New York. Both the European manufacturing consortium and the US maker claimed their aircraft would be able to travel as much as 18 hours non-stop, and could make the Hong Kong-New York trip year-round. Mr Slosar said the agreement reached after eight years of negotiations between Hong Kong and Washington had opened up 'plenty of opportunities'. The airline currently flies only to Los Angeles. Mr Slosar said while it was hoped new services could be launched immediately, it was likely they could not start until the late first half of next year. Mr Slosar said it would be decided in the coming weeks which routes would be served and by which type of aircraft. New York and Chicago were the likely first options and a Boeing 747-400 probably would be the choice in the short term. He said the emphasis was being placed on passenger services over cargo because major US freight operations were so well established. He said daily services were also the most likely. 'There are various options, including both passenger services and cargo services,' Mr Slosar said. 'But to be honest, [cargo] is a very cost-driven business and the US freight operators have a much lower cost base than Cathay. Economics will deserve a close examination of cargo. 'We do have a lot of options but the US market is very competitive on both passenger and cargo. If you want to be noticed you can't really dabble around with two or three services. You've got to go daily if you can.' Mr Slosar said while it may be possible to 'rejuggle' the fleet, it was thought 'an extra plane or two' would be needed for up to two years. He said they would either be leased or bought. Cathay has orders and options on more than 60 Boeing 747-400s and 777s, as well as Airbus Industrie A330s and A340s, valued at more than $6 billion. Mr Slosar said while the airline had already been considering the new longer-range jets to be produced by Airbus and Boeing, the US accord 'puts an exclamation mark on those', and a decision would be made soon on which was most likely to be ordered. The A340-8000 is an 8,000-nautical-mile range version of the four-engine A340 and is due to be available in 1997. The 777-100X, a 'shrunk' version of Boeing's new twin-engine 777, is due in 1999.