HONG KONG, 20 May 2021: Severe declines in travel demand
caused by ongoing Covid-19 restrictions worldwide substantially cut flights and
available seat capacity compared with pre-Covid times, Cathay Pacific reported
in its latest traffic figures for April.
The airline carried 22,404 passengers during April, an
increase of 63.2% compared to April 2020, but a 99.3% decrease compared to the
pre-pandemic level in April 2019.
April’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 32.6%
year-on-year but were down 99.1% versus April 2019. Passenger load factor
increased by 2.5 percentage points to 24.2%, while capacity, measured in
available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 18.9% but remained 96.8% down on
April 2019 levels.
In the first four months of 2021, passengers carried dropped
by 97.9% against a 90.2% decrease in capacity and a 97.7% decrease in RPKs, as
compared to the same period for 2020.
Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer
Ronald Lam said: “The pace of recovery continues to be slow. In April,
passenger demand was still weak, and despite average daily passenger numbers
improving slightly to 747, overall passenger numbers remained low at just
22,404. We cautiously reinstated more capacity to our network, including
resuming regular services to Chengdu, Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Melbourne and
The airline operated 21% more capacity in April than it did
in March, though this still represented a 96.8% drop compared with the
pre-pandemic level in April 2019. Load factor also improved slightly but
remained low at 24.2%.
During the first half of April, the airline added more
flights to cater to student travellers heading back to London. It also operated
two special flights that departed from London, 21 and 28 April to repatriate
Hong Kong residents who needed to return from the UK. Flights Hong Kong the UK
have now resumed.
“We were also encouraged to see more demand towards the
end of April for traffic from the Chinese mainland under the Hong Kong SAR
Government’s expanded Return2HK scheme, and we will be resuming flights to
Fuzhou and Hangzhou at the end of May. However, travel restrictions continue to
impact our passenger business, as was the case with the temporary suspension of
all flights from the Philippines to Hong Kong by the Hong Kong SAR Government
in mid-April,” said Lam.
Reflecting on the postponement of the travel bubble with
Singapore, Lam said: “While we are disappointed with the postponement of
the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble flights, we are nevertheless very
encouraged by the demand for two-way, all-purpose, quarantine-free air travel
flight arrangements among our customers. We look forward to the resumption of
our Air Travel Bubble flights.”
Looking forward, the airline says there are no signs of an
immediate, meaningful improvement in overall passenger demand despite the
relaxation of quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Hong Kong-based
aircrew operating passenger flights.
But the easing of quarantine rules for crew will “progressively
reduce our monthly cash burn and have a positive impact on passenger and cargo
More than 80% of pilots and over 40% of cabin crew in Hong
Kong have either booked or received their vaccination.
“We also welcome the easing of quarantine requirements
in Hong Kong for fully vaccinated travellers earlier this month, which is a
crucial step in returning to normal international air travel,” Lam