Cathay has suffered a huge drop in passenger numbers over the last 12 months.
Cathay reports that it carried 99.6% fewer passengers last month compared to April 2019, according to recently released traffic figures for the aviation group.
In April 2020, both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried just 13,729 passengers, compared to 3.12 million passengers in the same month last year.
According to Cathay’s chief customer and commercial officer, Ronald Lam, the global COVID-19 pandemic meant the airline operated a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule, serving just 14 destinations in April.
“This is the biggest challenge to aviation we have ever witnessed,” he said. “The world has changed dramatically over the past few months and it is imperative we do everything in our ability to adapt to this new world order.”
Passenger demand continued to fall throughout April, with the airline carrying fewer than 500 passengers per day.
The majority of this predominantly inbound traffic came from North America and the UK.
Cargo also dropped by almost a third compared to March. The movement of certain perishable goods, such as seafood and live animals, was negatively affected by lockdown measures across the world. The airline did however continue to carry “significant” quantities of medical equipment from China and Hong Kong.
The International Air Traffic Association (IATA) believes the coronavirus pandemic will see global passenger revenues decline by 55% compared to 2019, with airlines in Asia Pacific seeing the biggest revenue drop.
Lam admitted he saw no immediate signs of improvement at this stage. He said he expected average daily passenger numbers to remain around 500 throughout May.
“Industry bodies and analysts are now predicting a much more prolonged recovery for the global aviation industry, with international travel expected to pick up more slowly than domestic travel as border restrictions are only gradually eased,” he said. “As Hong Kong’s home carriers, we do not have the benefit of a domestic passenger network as a buffer.”
Lam added that the group’s intention to slightly increase its passenger flight capacity from three to five per cent in June was still subject to a potential relaxation in government health measures.