May's revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) fell 16.9 per cent year on year. The cargo and mail load factor increased 7.5 percentage points to 81 per cent, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres fell 24.5 per cent.
In the first five months of 2021, the tonnage fell by 23.2 per cent against a 37.3 per cent drop in capacity and a 25.5 per cent decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period of 2020.
Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, Ronald Lam said: 'The relaxation of crew quarantine requirements in mid-April enabled us to gradually reinstate cargo capacity throughout May, although we are yet to return to our full freighter schedule due to crew rostering lead time. Last month, we operated 24 per cent more freighter flights and 18 per cent more cargo-only passenger flights than we did in April, providing more lift to meet demand from a reasonably buoyant air cargo market.'
Taiwan stood out last month with considerable export demand, while the carrier also experienced strong inbound and outbound demand on services to Asia, the Americas and Europe, which enabled the airline to maintain high load factors on these routes.
Looking ahead, Mr Lam said: 'Overall cargo demand remains firm. Passenger belly capacity will remain constrained, but with quarantine restrictions easing due to the high uptake of vaccinations by our freighter crews, we will see a further resumption of our freighter frequencies from Hong Kong to various regions inour network.'
Cathay carried a total of 24,006 passengers last month, an increase of 30 per cent compared to May 2020, but a 99.2 per cent decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level in May 2019.
Last month's revenue passenger kilometres rose 23.5 per cent year on year, but were down 98.9 per cent compared to May 2019. The passenger load factor decreased 2.9 to 26.7 per cent, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 38 per cent, but remained 96.5 per cent down on May 2019 levels.
In the first five months of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 97.3 per cent against an 88.6 per cent decrease in capacity and a 97 per cent decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.
'We have begun cautiously adding more flights and destinations to our schedule. There was a small 6.6 per cent month-on-month increase in passenger capacity in May with the resumption of services to Fuzhou, Hangzhou and Dubai. Nevertheless, we still operated only 3.5 per cent of the capacity that we operated prior to the pandemic in May 2019,' Mr Lam said.
'Looking ahead in June, we are continuing to add more passenger services to cater to demand from the Chinese mainland, UK and US. In particular, we are increasing our London frequencies to cater to student traffic returning to Hong Kong from the middle of June.'
Cathay have also resumed flights during this month to a number of destinations, including Amsterdam, Brisbane, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Seoul and Vancouver.
'Meanwhile, we look forward to the resumption of the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble given the positive response these flights had garnered from our customers,' he added.