Cathay passenger capacity shrivels to a stunning 4 percent

March 20, 2020
Image: Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will fly a mere 4 percent of their combined capacity in April and May as they reduce passenger flights to a skeleton schedule.

Cathay Pacific will fly three weekly flights to 12 destinations and Cathay Dragon the same to three destinations and warn that even this drastically reduced schedule will depend on whether governments introduce more travel restrictions.

The evisceration of what was once a major traffic hub is a stark example of the impact on the aviation industry of COVID-19.

READ: Australia and New Zealand shut down foreign arrivals.

The decision to cut capacity by 96 percent comes after the airlines’ February traffic figures were down 54.1 percent compared to the same month a year ago and the passenger load factor fell 28.6 percentage points to 53.1 percent.

The low load factor was despite a significant 29.3 percent cut in capacity.

The 12 Cathay Pacific destinations are London (Heathrow), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo (Narita), Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney.

The three Cathay Dragon destinations are Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong), and Kuala Lumpur.

“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,’’ Cathay chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said.

“We will therefore endeavor to maintain a minimal number of flights to and from key destinations in our network to ensure these vital arteries remain open.”

Lam said the airline’s freighter network remained intact and it was ramping up cargo capacity with charter services and using passenger aircraft as freighters.

“We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented,’’ he said.

“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.

“Cathay Pacific is a resilient company. While we shall have much more to deal with given the challenges ahead, we remain confident in the long-term future of the company, the Hong Kong hub and our ability to thrive in Asia-Pacific.”