Cathay Pacific continued to report year-on-year growth in its air cargo volumes for February, with increases noted in e-commerce, pharma, perishables and machinery parts.


The Hong Kong flag carrier transported 107,039 tonnes of cargo in February 2024, showing an increase of 3% compared with February 2023.


Month-on-month, however, February's volume was lower than the 114,790 tonnes of cargo reported in January, which then increase of 20.7% compared with January 2023.


Cathay said in the announcement that the month's cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) increased 3.8% year on year.


The cargo load factor decreased by 7.5 percentage points to 59.2%, while available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs) increased by 16.9% year on year.


"For cargo, demand was weaker in February, which was expected given the timing of Chinese New Year, with tonnage down by 7% compared with the previous month. However, when compared with February 2023, tonnage was up by 3%," said Lavina Lau, chief customer and commercial officer at Cathay Pacific.


"There was a healthy spike in demand before Chinese New Year, and although demand from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland declined during the holiday period, the impact was also less than in previous years," she added.


In the first two months of 2024, Cathay reported that the tonnage increased by 11.4% against a 17.6% increase in AFTKs and a 7.5% increase in RFTKs, as compared with the same period for 2023.


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 [Source: Cathay Pacific]


Commenting on the two-month cargo performance, Lau noted a good growth trajectory for air freight between Hong Kong, North America and Europe.


"Taken across the two months, we saw good growth in tonnage on long-haul routes from other markets in Asia, as well as on routes from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland," she said.


"We observed encouraging growth in special products such as pharmaceuticals, perishables and machinery parts. Overall, for January and February combined, our cargo performance has met expectations, with increased tonnage carried compared with the same period last year," the Cathay chief customer and commercial officer further said.


Looking ahead, Cathay anticipates continued growth in air cargo volumes to and from Hong Kong.


"On the cargo side, we expect demand to pick up towards the second half of the month as we approach the end of the first quarter," Lau said.

"E-commerce continues to drive demand out of Hong Kong, although we maintain a balance in our tonnage with the wide range of freight solutions we provide to customers to meet their cargo requirements," she added.


Meanwhile, in terms of passenger numbers, Cathay Pacific said it carried a total of 1,801,174 passengers in February 2024, an increase of 61.6% compared with February 2023.


Cathay Pacific noted that it is looking to launch passenger flights to Riyadh, the capital and financial hub of Saudi Arabia, in the fourth quarter of this year — a move that will also boost belly cargo capacity for the route.