, Hong Kong

Cathay’s 2021 passenger traffic falls below 2020 figures

The airline only flew 717,059 passengers in 2021, lower than the 4.6 million in 2020.

Cathay’s full-year passenger traffic for 2021 fell below its 2020 figures despite a triple-digit year on year increase in December 2021.

The airline only flew 717,059 passengers in 2021, which is lower than the 4.6 million total in 2020.

Meanwhile, cargo tonnage only increased by 0.1% in the full year of 2021.

Full-year capacity and cargo revenue tonne-kilometres or RFTKs, on the other hand, decreased by 10.9% and 1.1%, respectively.

With the drop, Cathay said it expects to record a consolidated loss attributable to shareholders of approximately $5.6b to $6.1b.

The airline, in a bourse filing, said the loss “compares favourably to the attributable loss to shareholders of $21.6b for the year ended 31 December 2020.”

Cathay attributed the lower loss to “strong cargo demand, high cargo yield, and load factors, together with a continued focus on effective cash and cost management.”

“In addition, the full-year 2020 result included the recognition of one-off items such as impairment charges and restructuring, which were significantly reduced in 2021,” the airline said.

The airline said it was also able to reduce its operating cash burn from the $2.5-3.0b range in the first half of 2020 to “marginally cash generative in the second half of 2021.”

December 2021 performance

Based on Cathay’s latest traffic figures, the airline was able to carry a total of 92,219 passengers in December, a 130.6% increase compared to the same period in 2020.

Revenue passenger kilometres and capacity measured in available seat kilometres also improved in December 2021, increasing 156.5% year-on-year (YoY), and 28.6% YoY, respectively, whilst the passenger load factor jumped by 18.2 percentage points to 36.6%.

Meanwhile, the airline carried 134,691 tonnes of cargo last month, presenting a 12% YoY increase.

The month’s cargo revenue tonne-kilometres and capacity measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres were also up by 1.7% YoY and 6.5% YoY, respectively, whilst cargo load factor increased by 4 percentage points to 84.3%.

2022 outlook

In 2022, the airline aims to operate approximately an additional 5% more cargo flights given that conditions improve.

On the travel side, Cathay said it will “strive to maintain passenger connectivity with key destinations, although at reduced frequencies, under the confines of the place-specific and flight-specific suspension mechanism."

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