Cathay to increase flights this summer

Cathay Pacific has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.


Cathay Pacific has suffered another catastrophic month with capacity reduced by 97% in May, according to figures released by the airline this week. 


Reduced demand, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continue to dominate the airline industry. 


Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried just over 18,473 passengers last month, an average of around 600 passengers a day. This is a decrease of 99.4% compared to May 2019, although a slight increase on April 2020. 


In view of these figures, the airline operated a skeleton schedule throughout May, flying to just 14 destinations, most of which were regional. 


Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government announced a HK$39 billion bail-out for the beleaguered flag carrier.


Cargo was the highlight of the month, with 17% more tonnage in May than in April, serving predominantly long-haul destinations in North America, Europe and Australia. Demand for medical supplies softened towards the end of the month while traditional industrial and consumer products showed signs of picking up.


“The impact the global COVID-19 pandemic is having on the Cathay Pacific Group, and the wider aviation industry as a whole, is phenomenal,” said Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific Group’s chief customer and commercial officer. “Though there have been some small positive signs, such as the ban on transit traffic through Hong Kong International Airport beginning to ease, the future remains uncertain.”


Lam also pointed out that, unlike many of Cathay’s rivals, the airline has no domestic network to fall back on and is entirely dependent on cross-border travel.


The passenger operating capacity for June and July have now been revised; the airline plans to operate at around 3.5% of capacity in June and 9.4% in July. These plans remain contingent on the further relaxation of travel restrictions around the world and are subject to change. 


“We will continue to monitor demand and adapt our passenger schedule accordingly,” said Lam. “However we expect we will be operating a substantially reduced schedule over the coming months.”


Lam admitted that this is the most challenging operating environment the airline has ever witnessed, but added that the group remains committed to its customers.


“We have absolute confidence in our ability to overcome these short-term challenges,” he said. “The long-term future of the Cathay Pacific Group, and of the Hong Kong international aviation hub, remains as bright as ever.”  


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