Overall the group Ã¢â‚¬“ which includes its Dragonair subsidiary Ã¢â‚¬“ has been hit by a deep and sustained downturn in its key markets, with sharply reduced passenger and cargo revenues resulting in a 27.1 per cent drop in turnover to HK$30,921 million for the first six months. The airline made an operating loss of HK$765 million in the first half of the year before fuel hedging and tax.
Cargo volume carried by both airlines fell by 15.3 per cent compared with the first half of 2008 to 700,693 tonnes. The cargo load factor fell by 0.2 percentage point to 66.2 per cent while capacity was reduced by 14.1 per cent in response to the sustained fall in demand. Yield was under constant pressure for the whole six-month period and fell by 32.8 per cent to HK$1.66.
Cathay continues to take delivery of new, more efficient aircraft, with two more Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) aircraft entering the fleet in the first half of 2009 and the last of six Boeing 747-400ERF (Extended Range Freighters) arriving in April. At the same time the airline has retired all of its older, fuel-inefficient B747-200/300 Classic freighters. The group has also taken six of its B747-400BCFs out of service, five from Cathay Pacific and one from Dragonair. One of these has been wetleased to Air Hong Kong. A total of six passenger aircraft will also be parked.
In response to the downturn, Cathay Pacific reduced passenger capacity by 8 per cent and cargo capacity (including freight carried in passenger aircraft bellies) by 11 per cent from May, while Dragonair reduced passenger capacity by 13 per cent.