Corporate travel demand remains below par on Cathay Pacific as the group’s November passenger traffic took a 5 per cent hit due to air traffic control changes in Hong Kong.
But there were more signs the airline’s important cargo business was improving due to strengthening exports from Hong Kong and mainland China.
The combined Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon (formerly Dragonair) network carried 2.64 million passengers, down 5.1 per cent on the same month a year ago. It has risen by just 0.7 per cent in the first 11 months of the year compared to a 2.5 per cent rise in capacity.
The passenger load factor fell 1.4 percentage points, to 83.5 per cent, as a 2.3 per cent decrease in capacity was outstripped by the fall in traffic.
“The decrease in passenger traffic during November was expected as we operated fewer flights primarily to complement the cutover of the new air traffic control system at Hong Kong International Airport,’’ Cathay Pacific general manager revenue management Patricia Hwang said in a statement.
“November is traditionally a peak month for corporate travel, and while we did see some positive movement in this area, demand proved softer than in previous years.
“Sales in the United States were impacted by the presidential election, while Mainland China sales continued to weaken as a result of overcapacity in the market. Competition remains intense, with yield under considerable pressure.”
The two airlines carried 167,520 tonnes of cargo and mail in November, an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to the same month last year, and the load factor rose 1.1 points to 68.1 per cent.
Cathay Pacific general manager cargo sales & marketing Mark Sutch said the growth was backed by strong exports of new products from Mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as special products from Northeast Asia and the Americas.
“During the peak, there were more ocean-to-air conversions,’’ he said. “Apart from an increased load factor, yields have also improved month-on-month.’’
Cathay launched a twice-weekly freighter service to Portland, Oregon, In November as well as a once-a-week service to Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Australia.