AVIATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific's passenger count crashed 54.1% in February

Average Lunar Year numbers of 90,000 dropped to only 20,000 this year.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon saw its passenger count drop by 54.1% in February YoY to 1,008,644 passengers, or 4,735,301,000 revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), according to an announcement.

Passenger load factor similarly decreased by 28.6 percentage points to 53.1%, whilst capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), declined by 29.3%.

The company said that on a typical day following the lunar new year peak, the airline would normally carry around 90,000 passengers. Towards the end of February, such figure dropped to below 20,000, resulting in load factors falling to 53.1% with yield also significantly affected.

The two airlines carried 118,711 tonnes of cargo and mail, or 698,019,000 revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) in February, a 6.9% drop from the same month in 2019.

Meanwhile, the cargo and mail load factor saw an increase by 5.8 percentage points (ppt) to 66.6% YoY compared to February 2019, whilst capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 15.1%.

For cargo services, although production to China took a halt, demand for outbound air freight from China and Hong Kong began to recover progressively from mid-February. This was partly due to significant capacity cutbacks and a surge of pharmaceutical-related orders, which also drove cargo load factor to expand during the month, said Ronald Lam, group chief customer and commercial officer at Cathay Pacific

“We are facing an unprecedented challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause widespread disruption to our operation and business. In February alone, we made a significant unaudited loss of more than $2b at the full service airline level for both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon,” said Lam.

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