Cathay Still Mired in Covid Trouble With Traffic Down 99%

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Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. carried just 37,815 passengers in November, down 98.6% from a year earlier, and warned that its second-half losses will be significantly worse than the HK$9.9 billion ($1.3 billion) hemorrhage in the first six months.

Average passenger capacity in the second half is only likely to be 8.4% of pre-pandemic levels, compared with 34.3% in the first half, the Hong Kong-based carrier said Wednesday. Restructuring and impairment costs will add to the pressure on earnings as demand remains elusive.

“We are still not seeing significant demand for travel as we head toward the end of 2020 -- traditionally a strong travel season in the year,” Cathay’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement.

Cathay’s passenger traffic has been down around 99% every month since April as Covid-19 and related travel restrictions decimated demand. November revenue passenger kilometers fell 97.9% from a year earlier, while passenger load factor was just 18.5%. The airline carried 116,853 tons of cargo and mail, down 34.3%, with a load factor of 77.7%.

“We are still not seeing any meaningful improvement in our passenger business. On average, we carried just 1,261 passengers per day” -- Ronald Lam

Lam said Cathay has introduced chartered freighter flights to Riyadh and a seasonal cargo service to Australia’s Hobart will start in mid-December for exports of Tasmanian produce to Asia. The International Air Transport Association has re-certified the airline with its CEIV Pharma accreditation to ship temperature-controlled products such as vaccines.

Cathay expects to operate at about 9% of pre-pandemic passenger capacity this month and slightly above 10% in January, Lam said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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