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Wed, 21 October 2020

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon Carried Just 47,061 Passengers in September 2020

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a combined total of just 47,061 passengers in September 2020, a decrease of 98.1% when compared to September 2019.

The months revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) fell 97% year-on-year. Passenger load factor dropped by 48.8 percentage points to 24.9%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 91%.

In the first nine months of 2020, the number of passengers carried dropped by 83.2% against a 74.8% decrease in capacity and an 81% decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.

Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said, September rounded off what has been an incredibly difficult summer, traditionally the peak passenger travel season of the year. We continued to operate minimal capacity just 9% in September a marginal month-on-month increase from about 8% in August. This was despite the resumption of some services, notably Cebu and Perth. Daily passenger numbers remained low, averaging just 1,568, while load factor sat at about 25%.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 reg: B-HNM. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

In September, we continued to rely heavily on student traffic to the UK. We launched three charter services from Hong Kong to London to cater to demand from transit passengers from the Chinese mainland, and another from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv for transit passengers from Shanghai. Demand from the Chinese mainland has gradually increased since the lifting of the ban in Hong Kong of ex-Chinese mainland transit travel in mid-August. Overall, transit passengers accounted for about 33% of our total traffic in September.

The two airlines carried 109,453 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, a decrease of 36.6% when compared to September 2019.

The months revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) fell 30.4% year-on-year. The cargo and mail load factor increased by 9.8 percentage points to 75.3%, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 39.5%.

In the first nine months of 2020, the tonnage fell by 33.9% against a 34.9% drop in capacity and a 26.9% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.

Cargo demand has begun to ramp up across the network as we entered into the traditional peak season. Tonnage carried improved about 7% month-on-month, though this was still substantially below pre-COVID19 levels. Our freighter fleet schedule has been stepped up and is now operating at peak season levels, with services notably increased on Trans-Pacific routes. We also operated a greater number of cargo-only passenger flights compared to August 525 pairs in total and continued to charter Air Hong Kong flights to complement our freighter and passenger schedules, Mr. Lam said. In September, we began uplifting mail for Hongkong Post in our passenger cabins using our reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER preighters, which have had some of the Economy Class seats removed to provide additional cargo space. This aircraft was also deployed to run a new, temporary service to Pittsburgh serving the seasonal upsurge in demand.

IATA has downgraded its full-year 2020 passenger traffic forecast to reflect a drop of 66% and does not anticipate passenger travel will return to pre-COVID19 levels until 2024. Meanwhile, cargo demand remains depressed and is only recovering at a slower-than-expected pace due to capacity constraints.

Lam said: After carefully studying numerous scenarios facing the industry and our airlines, we expect we will be operating approximately 10% of our pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity for the rest of 2020 and under 50% for overall 2021. Among the multiple scenarios studied, this one is already the most optimistic that we can responsibly adopt at this moment. We assume we will be operating well below a quarter of pre-pandemic capacity in the first half of next year but will see a recovery in the second half of the year only assuming the vaccines currently under development prove to be effective and are widely adopted in our key markets by summer 2021.

Cathay Pacific today announced that the Cathay Dragon airline has ceased operations with immediate effect and that the group will layoff close to 6,000 employees worldwide. Read more.

See latest Travel News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, HKIA, Hong Kong, RPK, FTK.

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