HONG KONG, 18 October 2022: Hong Kong’s recent tweak of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements positively impacted Cathay Pacific’s traffic figures for September 2022.
Releasing its latest traffic results on Monday, the airline said abolishing the mandatory hotel quarantine arrangement for locally based aircrew from 10 September and for travellers arriving in Hong Kong from 26 September generated an uptick in passenger traffic.
Cathay Pacific carried 265,845 passengers in September, an increase of 101.7% compared to September 2021 but an 89% decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in September 2019.
The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased 102.2% year-on-year but were down 84.1% versus September 2019. Passenger load factor increased by 26.7 percentage points to 72.5%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 27.8% year-on-year but decreased by 83.8% compared with September 2019 levels.
In the first nine months of 2022, passengers carried increased by 124.7% against a 6.7% increase in capacity and a 130.6% increase in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2021.
The airline carried 104,055 tonnes of cargo last month, a decrease of 20.6% compared to September 2021 and a 39.7% decrease compared with the same period in 2019. The month’s cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) decreased 28.3% year-on-year and were down 38.6% compared to September 2019.
Cathay Pacific Chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “Cathay Pacific’s travel business continued to show improvement in September, helped by student traffic from both Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland. Overall passenger numbers increased month-on-month to over 8,800 per day, while the load factor was 72.5%. Passenger flight capacity stood at about 16% of pre-pandemic levels.
“Demand for student travel to the US tapered down from the second week of September, but this was balanced by growing demand among UK-bound student traffic. As such, we increased the number of flights operated between Hong Kong and the UK from 111 sectors in August to 134 in September, with the load factor on flights to London reaching 96%. We also added capacity on flights to Japan and Southeast Asia.
“Aside from student traffic, inbound traffic to Hong Kong also improved, largely driven by demand from the US and Canada. Removing hotel quarantine arrangements for passengers arriving in Hong Kong was a welcome development that helped boost travel sentiment. In the last week of September, we saw a considerable demand for flights to Singapore, Bangkok and Seoul.
“Looking ahead, we remain focused on adding as many passenger flights as we can and have already added more than 400 flight sectors in October to and from regional and long-haul destinations since the September announcements by the Government. We have resumed passenger flights to five destinations this month – Madrid, Milan, Dubai, Kathmandu and Bengaluru – bringing our total number of destinations to 51 in October. As we said in June, our target is to double the number of destinations offered by the end of the year compared with the 29 we operated in January 2022, and we are on course to achieving that.
“We will continue to add more flights in the coming months. In addition to the flight sectors previously scheduled for November and December, we will add close to 700 and 1,200 sectors, respectively. This will add more than half a million seats for passengers to choose from.
“Many of these additional seats are for popular destinations. For example, we already increased Tokyo (Narita) frequencies to 86 flight sectors and Osaka to 106 sectors in October. An additional 146 sectors in November and 234 in December will be operated on top of the sectors previously scheduled for Japan in these two months. This will add close to 140,000 seats over this period for fans of Japan heading to Osaka, Tokyo (Narita and Haneda, the latter resuming in November), and Sapporo (resuming in December).
“London Heathrow will also see a substantial increase in passenger flights in November and December. An additional 31,500 seats will be offered over the two months, and on certain days in December, we will be operating four flights a day. Customers can also look forward to the return of our First class offering on our prime London Heathrow flight, CX251/CX252, starting 5/6 December respectively.
“Customers have also had the opportunity to book our first ever ‘Miles Flights’ for travel throughout October. This has seen every available seat on designated flights to and from Hong Kong and Osaka, Seoul, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Cebu, Manila, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City being opened for Standard Award redemption this month. In total, we have made more than 70,000 seats available and the response from customers has been very positive.