Home » Aviation, Breaking News » Cathay Pacific slashes passenger capacity by 96%, expands cargo capacity

Troubled Cathay Pacific Group will reduce the passenger capacity of its airlines by 96% over the next two months as it continues to post mounting losses due to the “unprecedented” challenge presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As previously announced, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon intend to operate a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule in April and May, though our freighter capacity remains intact,” said a company statement released March 20.

The Hong Kong flag carrier said the enormous capacity cut is “in light of the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan.”

It added: “Our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world which will further dampen passenger demand.”

Cathay Pacific will operate three flights per week to 12 destinations: London (Heathrow), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo (Narita), Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney.

Cathay Dragon will operate three flights per week to three destinations: Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong), and Kuala Lumpur.

Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “As Hong Kong’s home airlines, it is important that we continue to provide important passenger and cargo connections to and from the Hong Kong hub. We will therefore endeavour to maintain a minimal number of flights to and from key destinations in our network to ensure these vital arteries remain open.”

He added: “While our freighter network remains intact, we are also ramping up our cargo capacity by mounting charter services and operating certain suspended passenger services purely for airfreight to meet cargo customer demand.”

Lam said the group had to take these “difficult but decisive” measures in the face of the unprecedented scale of the challenges being faced by the global aviation industry.

“We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically.”

On March 11, Cathay Pacific said its attributable profit in 2019 fell 27.9% compared to 2018 due to social unrest and trade tensions, adding it also expected to incur “a substantial loss for the first half of 2020” due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The global spread of the virus has already cost the group an unaudited loss of more than HKD2 billion in February 2020 alone.

Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific

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