Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Cathay Pacific sustains cargo, passenger traffic rebound

  • Cathay Pacific sustains cargo, passenger traffic rebound
  • Cargo volume surged 26.3% year on year to 92,361 tons in April, but lagged the April 2019 pre-pandemic level by 43.6%
  • Passenger traffic soared 82.2% y-o-y, but was 98.7% short of the April 2019 level
  • Carrier intends to restore or increase flights to key global destinations in June to boost both passenger and cargo throughputs

Cathay Pacific sustained a cargo and passenger traffic rebound, carrying 92,361 tons of cargo last month, up 26.3% from April last year, but 43.6% below the pre-pandemic level in April 2019.

The airline flew 40,823 passengers in April, an 82.2% year-on-year increase, although 98.7% short of the April 2019 level, Cathay Pacific said in a statement.

April cargo revenue ton kilometers (RFTKs) fell 13.2% year on year and were 62.4% lower than April 2019 levels. The cargo load factor slid 2.7 percentage points to 80.2%. Capacity, measured in available cargo ton kilometres (AFTKs), shrank 10.2% y-o-y and was 70.7% below the April 2019 level. In the first four months, tonnage eased 5.4% against a 42% capacity fall and a 43.3% y-o-y RFTK dive.

“Our [cargo] flight capacity continued to recover in April as we maximized regional frequencies and resumed freighter services to Frankfurt – [our] first freighter flights … to Europe since the end of December last year. Nevertheless, our cargo flight capacity remained about 29% of our pre-pandemic capacity,” said chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.

“Demand was mixed, with cargo exports from Shanghai affected by the city’s lockdown, which has disrupted supply chains in the eastern part of the Chinese mainland,” he said, adding that demand from Hong Kong began to recover as cross-border bottlenecks eased due primarily to sea feeders offsetting the impact of constrained cross-border trucking.

He said demand remained healthy elsewhere in Cathay Pacific’s network, with machine parts and industrial products from Northeast Asia and the Americas particularly active.

As the Hong Kong government adjusted travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in phases, Cathay’s April 2022 traffic figures reflect these constraints, the airline said.

Cathay Pacific’s revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) in April increased 60.7% y-o-y but were 98.5% below April 2019 levels. Passenger load factor climbed 31.5 percentage points to 55.6%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), fell 30.2% y-o-y and was 97.7% below April 2019 levels.

In the first four months of 2022, passenger traffic surged 37.8% against a 60.1% drop in capacity and a 15.8% rise in RPKs, compared with the same period in 2021.

Lam said Cathay Pacific saw improved demand for travel across its network after the Hong Kong government lifted a ban on inbound flights from nine countries on April 1 and cut the quarantine period from 14 days to seven for travelers arriving in the city.

“We saw increased demand among residents wishing to return home to the city, in particular from the UK. In view of this stronger demand, we increased our passenger flight capacity by about 25% compared with March, although we still only operated about 2% of our pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity last month,” he said.

Lam said transit traffic to and from Asian destinations including China picked up. On April 29, Cathay Pacific carried 2,805 passengers in total, the most on a single day since August 4, 2021. But it further cut its China frequencies due to Shanghai’s COVID-19 situation.

He said flights to more destinations will resume, including daily flights to and from London Heathrow in June and passenger flights to several important markets, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and India, will be resumed or increased.

Lam said Cathay intends to add back long-haul freighter destinations in Europe and the Americas and resume freighter services for the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Cambodia.

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