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Sat, 13 March 2021

Cathay Pacific Carried Just 21,134 Passengers in February 2021

Cathay Pacific carried a total of 21,134 passengers in February 2021, a decrease of 97.9% compared to the same month last year.

The months revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) fell 98% year-on-year, passenger load factor dropped 39.2 percentage points to 13.9%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 92.4%.

In the first two months of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 98.7% against a 92% decrease in capacity and a 98.5% decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 B-HNM. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

February was a particularly challenging month with the introduction of new mandatory quarantine measures for our Hong Kong-based aircrew from 20 February. This has had a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger markets. Even before that, passenger demand was very weak over the Chinese New Year holiday, said Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, Ronald Lam. Daily passenger numbers trended downwards throughout the month, reaching a considerable low of just 348 passengers carried on 22 February. We carried an average of just 755 passengers per day in February, a significant decline from the already low 981 passengers we carried per day the previous month. Overall, our February passenger capacity was down 41% compared to January and load factor was static at just 13.9%.

The airline carried 82,297 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, a decrease of 30.7% compared to February 2020.

The months revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) fell 26.2% year-on-year. The cargo and mail load factor increased by 13 percentage points to 79.5%, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 38.3%.

In the first two months of 2021, the tonnage fell by 29.4% against a 39.7% drop in capacity and a 23.8% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.

We saw strong cargo demand in the first 10 days of February driven by the pre-Chinese New Year holiday rush, particularly in the Chinese mainland market. As a result, we saw increased use of our Priority LIFT product across the network as customers sought space for their time-sensitive shipments. As was expected, cargo volumes dipped over the Chinese New Year period, though not as drastically as in previous years due to fewer factories remaining closed during this time, said Mr Lam. Demand did begin to recover towards the end of the month, but this was impacted by the introduction of the tightened crew quarantine measures. These measures also have a notable impact on our capacity and therefore our tonnage carried. Overall in February, capacity dipped month-on-month by 23%, while load factor remained high at 79.5%.

Outlook

Looking to the future, Mr Lam said, As the pace of recovery in demand for international travel remains highly uncertain and with the new quarantine requirements for our Hong Kong-based aircrew remaining in place, we will continue to operate a skeleton passenger flight schedule until at least the end of this month. We anticipate that the average number of passengers carried per day in March will remain low at below 600.

We have said that we expect to operate well under a quarter of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in the first half of 2021, and below 50% for the entire year, and this projection remains largely valid. We are still in a very dynamic situation and we will have to continue to be agile in our response.

Regarding cargo, we are well-placed to handle future COVID19 vaccine shipments and continue assisting with the global rollout of vaccines. Despite our immediate challenges, we expect to see a strong cargo performance in 2021, much as we did in 2020.

Cathay Pacific carried a total of 21,134 passengers in February 2021, a decrease of 97.9% compared to the same month last year. The months revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) fell 98% year-on-year, passenger load factor dropped 39.2 percentage points to 13.9%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 92.4%.

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