CX: Outlook looks poor for February

HONG KONG, 27 January 2021: Cathay Pacific released on Monday its traffic figures for December 2020 that continued to reflect the airline’s substantial capacity reductions in response to reduced demand and an increase in travel restrictions.

The airline carried 39,989 passengers last month, a decrease of 98.7% compared to December 2019. The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) fell 98.1% year-on-year.

Passenger load factor dropped by 66.6 percentage points to 18.4%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 91.2%. During 2020, passengers carried by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon dropped by 86.9% against a 78.8% decrease in capacity and an 85.1% decrease in RPKs, as compared to 2019.

Uncertainties in February

Effective later within February 2021, the Hong Kong SAR Government will implement a new 14-day hotel quarantine plus seven-day medical surveillance requirement for both Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew.

The new measure will cut the airline’s ability to serve passengers with the airline warning it could reduce the current passenger capacity of around 60% and increase cash burn estimated at HKD300 to 400 million per month, on top of the current HKD0-1.5 billion levels.”

Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam commented: “Our passenger business continues to face significant challenges… Our passenger business was notably impacted in the second half of the month (December) when the Hong Kong SAR Government implemented a ban on flights from the UK to Hong Kong amid the surge of Covid -19 cases in the UK, together with the change from 14 days’ to 21 days’ mandatory quarantine in designated hotels for arrivals into Hong Kong. On 28 December we carried just 490 passengers in total – the lowest number in a single day since 15 June. While some flights from Hong Kong to the UK have resumed as of January, flights from the UK to Hong Kong remain suspended.”