Cathay flies 151,964 tonnes of cargo and mail in January, down 8.9pc

CATHAY Pacific and Cathay Dragon transported a combined 151,964 tonnes of cargo and mail in January, representing a year-on-year decrease of 8

20 February 2020 - 19:00

CATHAY Pacific and Cathay Dragon transported a combined 151,964 tonnes of cargo and mail in January, representing a year-on-year decrease of 8.9 per cent, prompting a warning that the group's financial performance in 2020 will be 'significantly' weaker than last year.

The cargo and mail load factor dropped by 1.4 percentage points to 60.2 per cent. Capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 3.2 per cent while cargo and mail revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) declined by 5.4 per cent.

Cathay Pacific Group chief commercial officer Ronald Lam said: 'This was the most challenging Chinese New Year period we have experienced. As the novel coronavirus outbreak in mainland China intensified towards the end of the holiday period, travel demand dropped substantially.

'With more governments worldwide having imposed travel restrictions on passengers from mainland China and in some cases Hong Kong, we are seeing continued cancellations of bookings.

'We have since taken a series of short-term measures in response. These notably include the sharp reduction of capacity across our global network. For February and March, we have now reduced our overall passenger flight capacity by approximately 40 per cent, representing further reduction since our recent announcement.

'Our overall passenger performance in January was slightly behind that of 2019. Inbound passenger traffic to Hong Kong was down 40 per cent year on year, a slight improvement over the 46 per cent declines seen in November and December.

'For the first time in the past few months we saw growth in our outbound traffic - one per cent - though this was largely due to the Chinese New Year holiday starting earlier this year. We remain heavily reliant on lower-yield transit traffic through Hong Kong, which grew by seven per cent versus the same period last year.

'We started off 2020 fairly positively, seeing satisfactory passenger traffic volume through the first three weeks of the year. This was particularly evident with our long-haul routes, which showed improved load factors and yield over 2019.

'However, our performance deteriorated rapidly in the last week of January as the novel coronavirus situation became more severe, and it continues to weaken significantly. We saw significant cancellation of bookings within a short period of time.

'We saw reasonably solid demand across our network for the first three weeks of January. Our mainland China point of sales particularly stood out, recording year-on-year tonnage growth. By the last week of January, however, overall demand plummeted as manufacturing came to a halt in mainland China during the Chinese New Year holiday.

'The delay of the post-Chinese New Year resumption of manufacturing across mainland China has significantly affected both our Hong Kong and mainland China markets. However, demand elsewhere across our network remains buoyant, especially on trade lanes that have seen significant reductions in passenger capacity.

'The first half of 2020 was already expected to be extremely challenging financially. As a result of this additional significant drop in demand for flights and consequential capacity reduction caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the financial results for the first half of 2020 will be significantly down on the same period last year.'


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