Hong Kong flag carrier says it will continue to place its fleet into long-term storage as it reports sustained drops in passenger numbers due to COVID-19
Cathay Pacific Group will move around 40% of its 153-strong fleet into long-term storage, reflecting the airline’s continued substantial capacity reductions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The firm – which comprises Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon – released its traffic figures for last month. They showed that the two airlines together carried a total of 35,773 passengers, a decrease of 98.8% compared with August 2019.
The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) fell 98.1% year-on-year, while passenger load factors dropped by 60% to 19.9%.
Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer said: “It is clear that we are facing a long and uncertain road to recovery. The entire aviation industry has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the environment will continue to be extremely challenging for many years.”
Despite taking actions to reduce its costs, the group is still burning cash at a rate of HK$1.5bn (£150m) to HK$2 billion (£200m) per month and will continue to do so until the market recovers.
Lam added: “Given that we will be operating just a fraction of our services in the foreseeable future, we will continue to transfer some of our passenger fleet – approximately 40% – to locations outside of Hong Kong in keeping with prudent operational and asset management considerations.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has now pushed back its forecast for passenger recovery by a year to 2024, demonstrating just how slow a return to pre-pandemic levels will be.