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Cathay Pacific's airfreight demand ramping up

HONG Kong's Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 109,453 tonnes of cargo and mail in September, a decrease of 36

19 October 2020 - 19:00

HONG Kong's Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 109,453 tonnes of cargo and mail in September, a decrease of 36.6 per cent compared to the same month last year.

September's revenue freight tonne kilometres fell 30.4 per cent year on year. The cargo and mail load factor increased by 9.8 percentage points to 75.3 per cent, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres fell 39.5 per cent.



In the first nine months of 2020, the tonnage fell by 33.9 per cent against a 34.9 per cent drop in capacity and a 26.9 per cent decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.



Cathay Pacific Group said in a statement: 'Cargo demand has begun to ramp up across the network as we entered into the traditional peak season. Tonnage carried improved about 7 per cent month-on-month, though this was still substantially below pre-COVID-19 levels.



'Our freighter fleet schedule has been stepped up and is now operating at peak season levels, with services notably increased on Trans-Pacific routes. We also operated a greater number of cargo-only passenger flights compared to August - 525 pairs in total - and continued to charter Air Hong Kong flights to complement our freighter and passenger schedules.'



The company also noted that in September, the two airlines began uplifting mail for Hongkong Post in their passenger cabins using their reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER 'preighters', which have had some of the economy Class seats removed to provide additional cargo space.



'This aircraft was also deployed to run a new, temporary service to Pittsburgh serving the seasonal upsurge in demand', the Group added.



The two airlines carried a total of 47,061 passengers in September, a year-on-year decrease of 98.1 per cent. Last month's revenue passenger kilometres fell 97.0 per cent compared to same month in 2019. The passenger load factor dropped by 48.8 percent points to 24.9 per cent, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres, decreased by 91.0 per cent.



In the first nine months of 2020, the number of passengers carried dropped by 83.2 per cent against a 74.8 per cent decrease in capacity and an 81 per cent decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.



Looking ahead, the group's chief customer and commercial officer, Mr Ronald Lam said: 'After carefully studying numerous scenarios facing the industry and our airlines, we expect we will be operating approximately 10 per cent of our pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity for the rest of 2020 and under 50 per cent for overall 2021.



'We will see a recovery in the second half of the year - only assuming the vaccines currently under development prove to be effective and are widely adopted in our key markets by summer 2021.'


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