Cathay Pacific says it is “on course” to double the number of destinations by the end of the year to around sixty, compared to 29 in January this year. The airline is benefitting from the relaxation of travel restrictions and quarantine in Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific on course to recover its network.
Cathay added Milan, Madrid, Dubai, Kathmandu, and Bangalore to its network in October, bringing the total number of destinations to 51 and adding more than 400 flight sectors to the schedule. This will continue in the final two months of 2022, the carrier says: “In addition to the flight sectors previously scheduled for November and December, we will be adding close to 700 and 1.200 sectors respectively. This will add more than half a million seats for passengers to choose from,” said Ronald Lam, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer in a media statement.
One of Cathay’s most important markets is Japan, which itself is gradually coming out of a period of strict travel restrictions. In November and December, the airline will increase frequencies and add almost 140.000 seats on routes to Osaka, Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, and Sapporo. Frequencies to Osaka and Narita will see 146 additional sectors in November and 234 in December.
The airline will also substantially increase the number of flights to London Heathrow, adding 31.500 seats on the route in November and December. “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.”
In September, Cathay Pacific carried 101.7 percent more passengers compared to the same month last year, at 265.845. However, this is still 89 percent down on September 2019. The load factor was 72.5 percent. Capacity as available seat kilometer (ASK) was up 27.8 percent year on year. Between January and September, Cathay carried 1.1 million passengers, up 124.7 percent from 2021.
The strongest markets are North America (the US and Canada) and Europe, which accounted for 704K and 506K in passenger numbers respectively in September. The Southwest Pacific saw the highest growth year on year of 756.7 percent to 137K passengers. Traffic to mainland China grew by only 10.5 percent or 75K passengers, due to the continued zero tolerance Covid policy.
Cathay has been dependent on revenues from cargo to compensate for the lack of passenger flights and made good money in 2020 and 2021. It has been witnessing a reduction in demand in September, with tonnage 20.6 percent down from last year to 104K tonnes. “We had reduced cargo flight capacity in expectation of this and operated fewer cargo-only passenger services on long-haul routes. However, the fall in demand compared with last year was greater than predicted, largely due to weaker consumer demand and reduced manufacturing activities in the Chinese Mainland.” For the first nine months, tonnes carried were 9.8 percent down to 835K. Cargo flight capacity was some 61 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
As the number of passenger services increases over the next month, so will belly-hold capacity. This will offer customers more consistent services and more routes. “We remain positive that there will be solid demand over the traditional cargo peak period, and while it will not reach the levels achieved last year, we expect it to still be above historical averages.”
Cathay reported an HK$-4.999 billion net loss for HY1.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.