June's revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) rose 10.3 per cent year on year but were down 28.7 per cent compared to June 2019. The cargo and mail load factor increased by 5.6 percentage points to 80.6 per cent, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was up by 2.7 per cent year on year, but was down 44.4 per cent versus June 2019.
In the first six months of 2021, the tonnage fell by 17.6 per cent against a 31.9 per cent drop in capacity and a 20.3 per cent decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.
Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer, Ronald Lam said: 'With quarantine restrictions easing following the high uptake of vaccinations among our aircrew, we were able to further reinstate our freighter capacity, especially on our long-haul routes.
'We were also able to mount considerably more cargo-only passenger flights compared to the previous month, especially on short-haul routes to meet the reasonably strong regional demand. Overall, month-on-month tonnage growth matched our capacity growth, ensuring our net cargo load factor continued to average over 80 per cent'.
Looking ahead for cargo, Mr Lam said: 'We are cautiously optimistic that overall demand will be strong for the remainder of the year. The gradual resumption of more passenger services will provide us with greater belly capacity and should coincide with the usual cargo peak season.
'To provide additional lift we are also in the process of converting two more of our Boeing 777 passenger aircraft into cargo-only 'preighters' by removing seats from the Economy Class cabin, bringing our total to six 'preighters'. These aircraft will provide support to our general cargo and post shipments around Asia'.
Cathay carried a total of 40,651 passengers last month, an increase of 50 per cent compared to June 2020, but a 98.7 per cent decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in June 2019.
Last month's revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 60.5 per cent year on year but were down 98 per cent versus June 2019. Passenger load factor decreased by 5.6 percentage points to 21.7 per cent, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 102 per cent, but remained 92.2 per cent down on June 2019 levels.
In the first six months of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 96.4 per cent against an 85 per cent decrease in capacity and a 95.8 per cent decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.
Mr Lam commented: 'While passenger demand continues to be far below pre-COVID-19 levels, June did show some small signs of improvement. We carried an average of 1,355 passengers per day last month and on 25 June we carried 2,011 passengers - the most of any day so far in 2021.
'We continued to progressively add more passenger services, resuming flights to Guangzhou, Seoul, Brisbane, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vancouver and San Francisco. Capacity significantly increased by about 131 per cent compared to May 2021; however, we still operated only about 8 per cent of our June 2019 pre-pandemic capacity.
'Looking ahead on the passenger side, we will continue to progressively and cautiously add more services to our schedule. The suspension of flights from the Philippines, Indonesia and the UK has had an impact on overall demand; however, we are seeing improvements in other major markets. Student traffic demand to the US in particular is looking strong in the second half of August, and we are operating more frequencies on these routes to cater for it. Subject to travel restrictions being progressively lifted in Hong Kong and globally, we expect to operate approximately 30 per cent of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021.'