Cathay Pacific’s cargo figures for August looked like a repeat of the previous month as cargo and mail load factor jumped 14.2 percentage points to 75 percent from last year, a press release confirmed.
Movements were driven by transport of pharmaceutical products and live animal shipments across the network, with its time-sensitive product Priority LIFT getting a boost in demand.
Having received strong pre-orders, Cathay Pacific is “cautiously optimistic of a reasonably promising cargo peak season,” but geopolitical trade tensions could easily affect demand and adds to the uncertainty, the airline noted.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried 102,122 tonnes of cargo and mail in August, down 36.7 percent from the same period last year, whilst revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) fell 30.3 percent.
The airline said the two Boeing 777-300ERs serviced in July with some cabin seats removed continued to carry cargo for the month. The carrier operated 436 pairs of all-cargo passenger flights, of which 23 had freight loaded into the cabin.
Still, capacity measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs) was down 43.5 percent year on year for the month. Cathay Pacific said it will operate only 10 percent of passenger flights in September, which is likely to continue until October.
For the first eight months, tonnage fell 33.5 percent against a 34.4 percent drop in capacity and a 26.5 percent decline in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2019.
“We are weathering the storm for now, but the fact remains that we simply will not survive unless we adapt our airlines for the new travel market. A restructuring will therefore be inevitable to protect the company, the Hong Kong aviation hub, and the livelihoods of as many people as possible. We continue to move forward with our comprehensive review of all aspects of the business, and will make our recommendations to the board in the fourth quarter on the size and shape of the company to allow us to survive and thrive in this new environment.
With no solid signs of immediate recovery for passenger demand, Cathay Pacific said it will operate just a fraction of its services, with around 40 percent of its passenger fleet to be transferred for storage outside of Hong Kong.
Earlier reports said a first batch was already flown to Alice Springs’ desert facility, which is managed by Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage.
Cathay Pacific is looking forward to further relaxation measures that could restart travel activities, with the Hong Kong government in talks to establish travel bubbles with 11 countries.