Cathay Pacific Group, the parent company of the Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways, announced that it has moved 92 aircraft for long-term storage in Alice Springs in Australia and Ciudad Real in Spain. The company also disclosed having suffered a record loss of $2.8 billion in 2020 and sent 34 unspecified type aircraft for early retirement.

According to Cathay Pacific Group's announcement, the company has moved 92 passenger jets or almost 46% of its fleet to Alice Springs, Australia, as well as Ciudad Real, Spain, for long-term storage despite its initial intentions to move up to 40% of the fleet. The company also sent 34 aircraft to an early retirement arguing that jets were “unlikely to re-enter meaningful economic service again before they retire or are returned to lessors.“ However, the group did not specify which aircraft types were removed. 

The group, which experienced “the most challenging year” in its more than 70-year history, suffered an unprecedented loss of more than $2.8 billion in 2020 as its passenger revenues fell by 84.3% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. While the flight demand remained low, Cathay Pacific Group was forced to drastically reduce its operating capacity to below 10% in 2020.

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The Chairman of the group Patrick Healy noted that the market conditions still remain “challenging and dynamic” and warned of an uncertain future while betting on the recovery directly tied to the vaccination roll-out in the company’s key markets during the summer of 2021.

“It is by no means clear how the pandemic and its impact will develop over the coming months. [...] Our short-term outlook continues to be challenging. However, we remain absolutely confident in the long-term future and competitive position of our airlines as we recover and rebuild from the impact of Covid-19,” the Chairman said.

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After having moved a significant part of its fleet for long-term storage, the company also decided to push back the deliveries of Airbus A350-900 and A350-1000 jets to Cathay Pacific Airways by up to two years from expected 2020-2021 to 2020-2023. The group also postponed the deliveries of  Airbus A321neo deliveries for its other subsidiary Cathay Dragon from originally scheduled 2020-2023 to 2020-2025.