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Cathay Pacific cargo capacity drops 25pc as quarantine measures hit

HONG KONG's Cathay Pacific saw its cargo capacity drop by 25 per cent in March as a result of new crew quarantine measures in Hong Kong

19 April 2021 - 19:00
HONG KONG's Cathay Pacific saw its cargo capacity drop by 25 per cent in March as a result of new crew quarantine measures in Hong Kong.

Writing in the airline's monthly cargo update, general manager of cargo commercial George Edmunds said the new crew quarantine measures were the biggest obstacle faced to normal cargo operations.



The new measures, since rescinded, were introduced on February 20, meant that all Hong Kong-based crews need to quarantine for two or three weeks when returning from an international flight.



'These measures only affected airlines with Hong Kong-based aircrew and so apply to the vast majority of our pilots; therefore, there is an outsized impact on our operations relative to other carriers,' Mr Edmunds said.As a result, the airline flew around 25 per cent less cargo capacity overall in March, with weekly freighter frequencies between Hong Kong and the US reduced from the usual 34 to around 21-28 flights per week.



Mr Edmunds warned cargo capacity would fall further this month.



'This schedule is further reduced this month as crew who have volunteered for the closed-loop operation enter quarantine before a well-earned period of leave,' he said.



'The major impact of these quarantine requirements is on our long-haul routes, in particular to Europe, Southwest Pacific and the Americas.



'We have therefore looked to redeploy more freighters on regional and short-haul routes where closed-loop operations are not required.'



Rates on Hong Kong-North America routes have been rising quickly over the last couple of weeks, with Peter Stallion from air cargo derivatives broker suggesting that this is in part down to the new crew requirements out of Hong Kong.



Last week, data from the Baltic Exchange Air Freight Index (BAI) showed that average air freight rates from Hong Kong to North America increased to US$8.29 per kg, up from $4.93 per kg at the start of March.


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