Cathay Pacific passenger traffic falls by almost 100% in April

Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon have reported that its combined passenger traffic have almost fell by 100% in the month of April compared to its performance on the same month in 2019 amid the coronavirus crisis.
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The airlines had to reduce their capacity by almost 97% as passenger air travel demand plummeted as a result of government imposed travel restrictions at different countries and destinations in order to stop the spread of the CoviD-19.

In a report from Asian Aviation, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 13,729 passengers in April, a decrease of 99.6 percent compared to April 2019. The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) fell 99.3 percent year-on-year. Passenger load factor plummeted by 62.3 percentage points to 21.7 percent, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 97.3 percent. In the first four months of 2020, the number of passengers carried dropped by 64.4 percent against a 49.9 percent decrease in capacity and a 59.1 percent decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.

It also said that the two airlines carried 84,634 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, a decrease of 48.3 percent compared to April 2019. The month’s revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) fell 37.3 percent year-on-year. The cargo and mail load factor increased by 7.6 percentage points to 70.1 percent, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 44.1 percent. In the first four months of 2020, the tonnage fell by 26.6 percent against a 25.4 percent drop in capacity and a 20.6 percent decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us in an unprecedented way. Year-to-date up to April, we made an unaudited loss of HK$4.5 billion (US$580.5 million) at the full-service airline level (Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon) and the financial outlook continues to be very bleak for the coming few months at least. We operated only a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule serving just 14 destinations in April. Passenger demand continued to fall during the month and we carried fewer than 500 passengers per day only. The ban on transit traffic through Hong Kong together with minimal demand for outbound travel meant that the majority of our very limited traffic came from inbound travellers, notably from North America and the UK," said Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific group chief customer and commercial officer.

Lam also noted that overall cargo tonnage uplift dropped by almost a third in April of this year compared to the previous month because of the impact of belly cargo, or the lack thereof.

According to Lam, "significant effort was made to prioritise capacity for routings with the highest airfreight demand, most notably to the Americas, Australia and Europe. We also increased the utilisation of our existing freighter fleet, chartered more flights from our subsidiary Air Hong Kong, and successfully operated over 500 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights – more than double the number we operated in March. To further expand our available capacity, at the end of April we began loading cargo in the cabins of our Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, which we expect will serve long-haul markets especially well in the months to come."

In an analysis released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the CoviD-19 crisis will cause the global airline industry US$314 billion in passenger revenue this 2020. Among all regions, Asia-Pacific airlines will see the largest revenue drop of US$113 billion and a 50% passenger demand drop year-on-year.

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