, Hong Kong

Cathay expects consolidated loss of at least $5.6b for 2021

Passenger travel remained extremely subdued due to travel restrictions.

Cathay Pacific Group is expecting to record a consolidated loss attributable to shareholders of approximately $5.6b to $6.1b for the year ended 31 December 2021.

However, according to Cathay, whilst the expected loss is substantial it compares favourably to the attributable loss to shareholders of $21.6bn for the year ended 31 December 2020.

According to the airlines CEO, Augustus Tang, passenger travel remained extremely subdued throughout 2021 as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

“While passenger travel continued to be acutely affected, cargo demand was strong throughout
the year. We carried approximately 1.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2021, which compares to
around 1.3 million tonnes in 2020 and 2 million tonnes in 2019,” Tang said.

In its traffic figures for December, Cathay Pacific carried a total of 92,219 passengers, an increase of 130.6% compared to December 2020, but a 96.9% decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in December 2019.

Meanwhile, the month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 156.5% year-on-
year, but were down 95.1% versus December 2019. Passenger load factor increased by 18.2
percentage points to 36.6%, whilst capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs),
increased by 28.6%, but remained 88.6% down on December 2019 levels. In the full year of
2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 84.5% against a 61.8% decrease in
capacity and a 79.5% decrease in RPKs, as compared to 2020.

Additionally, the airline carried 134,691 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 12% compared to December 2020, but a 24.1% decrease compared with the same period in 2019. 

The month’s cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) rose 11.7% YoY, but were down 14.7% compared to December 2019. The cargo load factor increased by 4 percentage points to 84.3%, whilst capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was up by 6.5% YoY, but was down 32.9% versus December 2019. In the full year of 2021, the tonnage increased by 0.1% against a 10.9% drop in capacity and a 1.1% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to 2020.

Cathay Pacific is still in the process of finalising the Group’s annual results for the year ended
31 December 2021, and will publish its annual results in March 2022.

Outlook

Looking ahead, Tang said the government’s continued tightening of airline crew quarantine restrictions and travel restrictions will significantly impact their passenger and cargo flight capacity.

“Regrettably, the capacity reduction will have an impact on Cathay Pacific’s business and we
have been evaluating the potential impact of these measures on our operations and cost base.
According to our preliminary assessment, we expect these capacity levels to result in an
operating cash burn of HK$1.0-1.5 billion per month from February,” Tang said.

Tang added that until conditions improve, they will continue to do everything in their power to maximise capacity and estimate mitigation measures to increase crew resources to enable them to operate an additional 5% more cargo flight capacity.

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