Cathay Pacific Traffic Numbers Plunged to New Lows in January

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Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. flew an average of just 981 passengers a day in January, the first time the number dropped below 1,000 since June, and its load factor was the lowest on record at just 13.3%.

The Hong Kong-based airline has been reporting huge drops in passenger traffic in the months since the coronavirus emerged in China in early 2020. It flew a total of 30,410 passengers in January, a 99% slump from a year earlier. Revenue passenger kilometers fell 98.7%, the carrier said in a statement.

Cathay Pacific Traffic Numbers Plunged to New Lows in January

“Many of the challenges of 2020 continued into January while a number of new ones have also emerged, most notably new Covid-19 strains and more severe lockdowns in some of our key markets,” Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said. “Aside from a few pockets of intra-Asia demand, overall demand remained very weak.”

Cathay’s cargo business has been something of a crutch during the crisis, but even that slowed in the first half of last month. It picked up again ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, led by shipments of perishables, live seafood and parts for automobiles and electronics.

“We are seeing healthy cargo demand in February up until the Chinese New Year holiday before slowing down in the latter half of the month,” Lam said.

January passenger capacity was down about 6% from December, largely due to Hong Kong banning flights from the U.K., Lam said. The airline resumed passenger services from London in mid-January, but only flew five in total over the rest of the month.

New quarantine measures on flight crew that Hong Kong is due to impose from Saturday will make the coming months “extremely challenging,” Lam warned. Cathay said in January that the requirement for crew to quarantine could increase its monthly cash burn by HK$400 million ($52 million).

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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