Cathay Pacific Group highlighted the valiant effort of its cargo division in its 2020 annual results as its overall performance, particularly the passenger business, was severely hit, no thanks to the pandemic.
The group reported a record annual loss of US$2.8 billion (HK$21.65 billion) last year, with group revenue down 51.6 percent from 2019 to US$6.04 billion (HK$46.9 billion).
“The Cathay Pacific Group experienced the most challenging 12 months of its more than 70-year history in 2020,” said chairman Patrick Healy.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, our passenger revenues in 2020 declined to only 2-3% of 2019 levels. With demand at an all-time low, we drastically reduced our passenger schedule to just a bare skeleton and our operating capacity remained below 10% for much of 2020,” Healy noted.
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Passenger revenue in 2020 plummeted 84.3 percent year on year to HK$11.3 billion as traffic and capacity fell 85.1 percent and 78.8 percent, respectively. The carrier saw 86.9 percent fewer passengers in 2020 versus the previous year.
Cargo was by far the better performer as revenue jumped 16.2 percent to US$3.17 billion (HK$24.6 billion), which the carrier said reflected “the imbalance in the market between demand and available capacity.”
Cargo traffic dropped 26.5 percent, whilst capacity was down 35.5 percent year on year. Load factor increased by 8.9 percentage points to 73.3 percent as yields soared 58.3 percent to HK$2.96.
“Yields increased and revenue improved due to the imbalance in the market between available capacity and demand,” Cathay said in its annual report.
“We increased cargo capacity by chartering services from our all-cargo subsidiary, Air Hong Kong, operating cargo-only passenger flights and carrying select cargo in the passenger cabins of some of our aircraft, and removing some seats in the Economy Class cabins of four Boeing 777-300ERs to provide further cargo space,” it added.
Nearly 60 percent of Cathay Pacific’s 2020 revenue was from its cargo operations, up from around 20 percent in 2019.