Cathay Pacific released its traffic figures for January 2021 that continued to reflect the airline’s substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place in Hong Kong and other markets amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
In terms of cargo, the Hong Kong flag carrier carried 108,930 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, a decrease of 28.3% compared to January 2020. The month’s revenue freight tonne-kilometres (RFTKs) also fell 21.7% year-on-year as the cargo and mail load factor increased by 19.3 percentage points to 79.4%.
Capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 40.7%.
“Cargo demand from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland slowed down somewhat in the first two weeks of January but started to strengthen in the second half as we approached the Chinese New Year holiday,” said Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam.
The slowdown in its core markets, he noted, provided an opportunity to increase capacity elsewhere in our network, most notably Southwest Pacific and Northeast Asia.
Perishables, auto & electronic products
“Perishables, live seafood, and automotive and electronic products provided substantial growth in priority and special cargo volumes. Our newly launched seasonal freighter service to Hobart, which has now enjoyed a full month of operation, has been well received and contributed significantly to Southwest Pacific’s positive performance,” he added.
“We continued to provide additional capacity to the market in the form of 489 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights and more charter flights from our all-cargo subsidiary, Air Hong Kong.”
Moving forward, Cathay Pacific said despite the new restrictions set by the government, it will work to ensure that it can “maintain vital connections for passengers and cargo into and out of Hong Kong."
Effective 20 February 2021, the Hong Kong SAR Government is implementing new, stricter quarantine measures for our Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew when they return to Hong Kong after being on duty.
Cathay Pacific said it is actively managing its crew resources to plan for its flight services moving forward in light of these new requirements.
“As the home carrier of Hong Kong, we will do everything we can to maintain vital connections for passengers and cargo into and out of Hong Kong,” Lam added.
Outlook for 2021
“Looking ahead, we are seeing healthy cargo demand in February up until the Chinese New Year holiday before slowing down in the latter half of the month. Overall, we expect our strong cargo performance in 2020 to continue in 2021,” Cathay's Chief Customer and Commercial Officer said.
“Nevertheless, as long as stringent quarantine measures continue to be in place in Hong Kong and elsewhere, the coming months will be extremely challenging. Our ability to adapt quickly will be key to our business and we will remain agile in adjusting our network plan in accordance with market demand.”