Cathay Pacific continued to see muted cargo numbers in October on the back of persisting global economic headwinds and anti-pandemic measures on the Chinese Mainland.
However, the Hong Kong flag carrier noted that despite the drop year-on-year, volumes were up from the numbers seen the month prior, in September.
The airline carried 109,055 tonnes of cargo in October, a decrease of 20.1% compared with October 2021, and a 40.2% decrease compared with the same period in 2019.
Nonetheless, this is slightly higher than the 104,055 tonnes of cargo recorded in September. In August, the carrier carried 104,851 tonnes carried that month.
For October, Cathay Pacific said cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) decreased 25% year-on-year and were down 36.2% compared with October 2019.
"In terms of cargo, global economic headwinds and anti-pandemic measures on the Chinese Mainland continue to impact trade flows and production," said Ronald Lam, chief customer, and commercial officer.
Europe cargo performance a "bright spot"
"While our tonnage carried fell in October year-on-year compared with the high base of 2021, it saw a 5% increase over September," Lam added, noting that the carrier also operated about 10% less cargo capacity compared with the same time last year as we flew fewer cargo-only passenger services.
"Overall, we operated about 63% of our pre-pandemic cargo flight capacity last month," the Cathay Pacific executive added.
Lam noted that the airline's expanded network in Europe, however, was a "bright spot" with double-digit month-on-month growth in October as Cathay Pacific resumed more of our passenger services.
For October, Cathay said cargo load factor decreased by 13.9 percentage points to 69%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 9.9% year-on-year, and was down by 37.2% versus October 2019.
In the first 10 months of 2022, the tonnage decreased by 11.1% against a 21.9% decrease in capacity and a 30.9% decrease in RFTKs, as compared with the same period for 2021.
Cargo peak season to remain subdued
Looking ahead at the remainder of 2022, Lam said the Group has already announced the addition of about 3,000 passenger flight sectors from October until the end of December this year.
He noted that Cathay is also "on track" to achieve its target of operating up to one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels by the end of 2022 with travel demand continuously improving ahead of the holidays.
"Regarding cargo, while the peak season this year will be subdued when compared to the unprecedented peak last year, we still expect to see increased tonnage driven by seasonal e-commerce events as well as the start of the perishables season in the Southern Hemisphere," Lam said.
"As the belly capacity provided by our passenger flights increases over the months ahead, we are extending the reach of our network and increasing the choice of schedules for our air cargo customers," he added.
Meanwhile, the Cathay Pacific executive said the airline now expects that the second half of 2022 will be operating cash generative overall.
At the same time, he added that the Group's second-half 2022 results for our airlines and subsidiaries are expected to see a marked improvement over first-half 2022 results, although still a "loss overall for the full year of 2022."
"The results from associates, the majority of which are recognised three months in arrears, and which in some cases have already been announced, will include significant losses. As a result, a substantial loss for the Group, including airlines, subsidiaries and associates, is expected for the full year of 2022," Lam said.