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Fri, 19 November 2021

Cathay Pacific Reports Increase in Cargo and Passenger Numbers

(19 Nov 2021)  Cathay Pacific carried 76,430 passengers in October, an increase of 98.3% compared to October 2020, but a 97.2% decrease when compared to the pre-pandemic level in October 2019.

The months revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 95% year-on-year, down 96.1% versus October 2019, while the passenger load factor increased by 11.4 percentage points to 29.6%. Capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 19.9%, but remained 89.9% down on October 2019 levels.

In the first 10 months of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 87.8% against a 68.4% decrease in capacity and an 84% decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 reg: B-LBK. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 reg: B-LBK. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

Ronald Lam, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, said, October was more challenging for our passenger business than recent months. Demand for student travel, which had been robust over the past few months, tapered down quickly from early October. As such, we trimmed our passenger capacity by about 19% compared to September.

Overall, we only managed to operate approximately 10% of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity compared to October 2019. Meanwhile, our average daily passenger numbers dropped about 44% versus the previous month to 2,465. While our long-haul routes were less strong, our short-haul operations remained robust with demand for flights serving Asia remaining encouraging, in particular those serving the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The airline carried 136,949 tonnes of cargo in October 2021, an increase of 19.8% compared to the same month last year, but a 25.2% decrease compared with the same month in 2019.

Octobers cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) rose 21% year-on-year, down 14.9% compared to October 2019.

The cargo load factor increased by 4 percentage points to 82.9%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was up by 15.2% year-on-year, but down 30.3% versus October 2019.

In the first 10 months of 2021, the tonnage decreased by 2.9% against a 14.7% drop in capacity and a 4.3% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.

Air cargo demand continued to strengthen in October, said Lam. We maintained an optimised freighter schedule to meet this demand, supplemented by capacity provided by our scheduled passenger services. We also operated 963 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights, including 78 sectors that were operated by our converted preighters carrying cargo in the cabins both record-high numbers. Overall, we operated approximately 70% of our pre-pandemic cargo capacity when compared to October 2019. Meanwhile, our average load factor increased to nearly 83%. Our home market, Hong Kong, continued its strong performance, and other markets around our network were similarly encouraging. Southeast Asia in particular performed well with robust exports of consumer products and industrial parts. Return traffic from the Americas and Europe also gathered momentum.

Looking Forward

The second half of the year is typically our peak cargo period, Lam said. The exceptionally strong cargo season that we are experiencing so far, together with our continued focus on effective cash and cost management, have led to a positive impact on our operating cash burn. This is to the extent that we have been able to achieve close to operating cash breakeven for the four-month period from July to October 2021. On the passenger side, the re-opening of Australias borders for vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family has been a positive development. We have already added more capacity and seen an increase in flight bookings.

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