,Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific records increase in passengers, cargo YoY in June

The traffic figures were still below the pre-pandemic levels in June 2019.

Cathay Pacific reported an increase in passengers, and cargo and mails carried last month compared to records in June 2020, but were still lower than the pre-pandemic levels in June 2019.

In a media release dated 15 July, Cathay Pacific said it carried a total of 40,651 passengers last month, an increase of 50% from the same period last year, but a decrease of 98.7% in June 2019 prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) in the last month rose 60.5% year-on-year (YoY), but were down 98% in June 2019. Passenger load factor decreased by 5.6 percentage points to 21.7%, while capacity which is measured in available seat kilometres increased by 102% but is still a 92.2% decline from 2019.

In the first half of 2021, however, the passengers carried dropped by 96.4% “against an 85% decrease in capacity and a 95.8% decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.”

Ronald Lam, chief customer and commercial officer, said records in June showed “small signs of improvement” despite being far below the pre-COVID figures, adding that they continued to add more passenger services, resuming flights to Guangzhou, Seoul, Brisbane, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and San Francisco.

“Our recently resumed flights serving the Chinese mainland experienced particularly noteworthy demand, especially transit traffic to various long-haul destinations. We also saw increased demand from Taiwan and some Southeast Asian destinations,” he said.

“However, overall recovery continues to be affected by travel restrictions. The Hong Kong SAR Government’s ban on flights to Hong Kong from the Philippines continued into June, while bans on flights from Indonesia and the UK came into effect on 25 June and 1 July, respectively,” he added.

For cargo and mails, Cathay Pacific said it carried 109,423 tonnes last month, a 17.4% YoY increase but a decrease of 33.3% compared to the June 2019 level. Revenue freight tonne-kilometres (RFTKs) for the month rose 10.3% YoY but declined 28.7% compared to June 2019. Cargo and mail load factor increased 5.6 percentage points to 80.6%, while capacity measure in available freight tonne-kilometres increased by 2.7% YoY but fell 44.4% compared to June 2019.

Tonnage dropped by 17.6% in the first six months of the year “against a 31.9% drop in capacity and a 20.3% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.”

Lam said they were able to “further reinstate” its freighter capacity especially on long-haul routes with the easing of quarantine restrictions and high uptake of vaccinations among its crew members.

“We were also able to mount considerably more cargo-only passenger flights compared to the previous month, especially on short-haul routes to meet the reasonably strong regional demand. Overall, month-on-month tonnage growth matched our capacity growth, ensuring our net cargo load factor continued to average over 80%,” he said.

Lam said they will continue to add more services to their schedules for passengers. Despite the effect on overall demand due to suspension of flights from Philippines, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, the airline is seeing an improvement in other major markets.

“Student traffic demand to the US, in particular, is looking strong in the second half of August, and we are operating more frequencies on these routes to cater for it. Subject to travel restrictions being progressively lifted in Hong Kong and globally, we expect to operate approximately 30% of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021,” he said.

He also said that its Airbus A321neo aircraft will have its inaugural flight on 4 August from Hong Kong to Shanghai and has planned flights to Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Kaohsiung, and Taipei next month.

For cargo, Lam said the airline is “cautiously optimistic” that overall demand will be strong for the rest of the year. “The gradual resumption of more passenger services will provide us with greater belly capacity, and should coincide with the usual cargo peak season."

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