Cathay Pacific carried a total of 54,092 passengers last month, an increase of 25.8% compared to July 2020, but a 98.4% decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in July 2019. The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 22.6% year-on-year, but were down 97.6% versus July 2019. Passenger load factor increased by 5.1 percentage points to 28.5%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 0.7%, but remained 92.9% down on July 2019 levels. In the first seven months of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 95.2% against an 81.9% decrease in capacity and a 94.3% decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.
The airline carried 121,600 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, an increase of 19.1% compared to July 2020, but a 28.4% decrease compared with the same period in 2019. The month’s revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) rose 17.8% year-on-year, but were down 20.8% compared to July 2019. The cargo and mail load factor increased by 5.4 percentage points to 81.8%, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was up by 10.1% year-on-year, but was down 38.9% versus July 2019. In the first seven months of 2021, the tonnage decreased by 12.7% against a 26.7% drop in capacity and a 15.2% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.
Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said: “Our passenger capacity in July dropped slightly by 3% month-on-month. We operated only 7.1% of our July 2019 pre-pandemic passenger capacity. We did see some improvements in demand. We carried a total of 54,092 passengers in July, averaging 1,745 per day. On 29 July, we carried 2,585 passengers, the most in a single day so far in 2021. Meanwhile, our passenger load factor of 28.5% was the highest it’s been over the past 12 months.
“Transit traffic from the Chinese Mainland to the US and Canada remained robust. On top of that, we captured a few pockets of demand for flights from the Chinese Mainland to Southeast Asia, in particular to Jakarta and Hanoi. The increase in demand compensated for the loss of traffic from flights that remained suspended last month, notably from the UK, the Philippines and Indonesia. Meanwhile, we resumed passenger services to Auckland, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Tel Aviv and Wuhan.
“Cargo capacity in July increased 12.1% month-on-month, driven by the full resumption of our freighter schedule and a 33% increase in cargo-only passenger flights. All sales regions and route groups recorded healthy tonnage growth proportional to the increase in capacity, ensuring we sustained a high load factor of 81.8% across the month.
“We saw more active movement of vaccines in July and we have now surpassed the milestone of 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines carried to locations around the world.
“We welcome the Hong Kong SAR Government’s latest simplifications to the entry requirements for passengers into Hong Kong. However, COVID-19 and the associated travel restrictions and quarantine requirements that are in place both in Hong Kong and around the world continue to dampen passenger demand for air travel. Furthermore, our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets remains affected by quarantine and other COVID-19-related requirements impacting our aircrew.
“We hope to be able to operate approximately 30% of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021. However, this is highly dependent upon operational and customer travel restrictions being relaxed. As governments around the world have said, this will only be possible when sufficiently high vaccination rates are achieved.
“We are incredibly grateful to the 88% of our Hong Kong-based employees, including 99% of pilots and 91% of cabin crew, who have already booked or received their vaccinations. Furthermore, all of our aircrews continue to show exemplary professionalism in adhering to stringent anti-pandemic measures while overseas. So far this year, there have been zero positive tests among the more than 75,700 tests that our operating Hong Kong-based aircrews have taken in the days following their arrival in Hong Kong.
“Looking ahead on the passenger front, student traffic to the US and the UK is expected to give us a slight boost to our business in August and September, respectively. Flights on peak dates are already full, and flights on earlier departure dates are also likely to see increased bookings as demand continues to come in. We also marked the inaugural flight of our new Airbus A321neo to Shanghai (Pudong) earlier this month, as we progressively resume more flights to the Chinese Mainland and the region.
“On the cargo side, overall demand is trending upwards despite us entering the traditionally quieter summer months for cargo. As such, there is good momentum building up as we move towards the cargo peak season.
“Nevertheless, we are still facing many challenges to both our passenger and our cargo business as the COVID-19 situation in different parts of the world continues to evolve.”