CX’s December traffic revives

HONG KONG 24 January 2023: Cathay Pacific reports a “marked improvement” in the second half of 2022, while December’s traffic figures showed the airline carried 801,088 passengers, an increase of 768.7% compared with December 2021.

Cathay Pacific released its traffic figures for December 2022 at the weekend and included an update on its performance in the year ended 31 December 2022. Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, the aviation group said it would continue on the path to rebuilding its airlines and the Hong Kong international aviation hub.

December 2022 traffic figures

Despite the welcome improvement in December traffic figures, the result was still 73.3% off the pace of the pre-pandemic December 2019.

Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased 545.2% year-on-year during December 2022 compared with the same month in 2022. However, it was down 68.4% when compared with December 2019.

Passenger load factor increased by 46.7 percentage points to 83.3%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 183.5% year-on-year but decreased by 67.8% compared with December 2019 levels. In the full year of 2022, the number of passengers carried increased by 291% against a 51.6% increase in capacity and a 258.3% increase in RPKs, as compared with 2021.

Cathay Pacific chief executive officer Ronald Lam said: “December saw a drastic uptick in travel demand with Christmas being the first major holiday since travel restrictions in Hong Kong were lifted, although we were still only operating about 32% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels. We carried over 25,800 passengers per day on average.

“Demand was overwhelming for travel to short-haul leisure destinations as we continued to ramp up our frequencies. We also added more destinations in December, including Sapporo, Fukuoka, Penang and Dhaka, ending the year with nearly 60 destinations in our network – double the 29 we flew to in January 2022.”

Full-year 2022 financial performance

Based on a preliminary review of the unaudited consolidated management accounts of the Cathay Pacific Group for the year ended 31 December 2022 and the information currently available to the Board of Directors of Cathay Pacific, the group is expected to record a consolidated loss attributable to shareholders of approximately HKD6.4-7.0 billion. This compares to the attributable loss to shareholders of HKD5.5 billion for the year ended 31 December 2021.

The second-half 2022 results for the group’s airlines and subsidiaries were a marked improvement over the first-half 2022 results, although still a small loss overall for the full year of 2022. However, the results from associates include significant losses.

Lam said: “I am very encouraged to see a trend of continuous improvement in our operations and financial performance for our airlines and subsidiaries in the second half of 2022. Progressive relaxations to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Hong Kong enabled us to be operating cash generative overall in the second half of 2022.”

Cathay Pacific is still finalising the group’s annual results for the year ended 31 December 2022 and will publish its results in March 2023.

2023 business outlook

Looking ahead into 2023, Lam said the group is firmly on the path to rebuilding Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong international aviation hub.

“We remain fully committed to restoring connectivity and capacity at our home hub. As a group, which includes passenger airlines Cathay Pacific and HK Express, we anticipate operating about 70% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity by the end of 2023, intending to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024.

“In terms of passenger travel, we expect demand will continue to be strong in January and the Chinese New Year period, driven by leisure traffic from Hong Kong. Following the return of quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland, we continue adding more flights and more destinations as quickly as possible. We aim to operate more than 100 return flights per week to and from 14 cities in the Chinese Mainland by the end of February.

(Source: Cathay Pacific)

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