Ongoing travel restrictions mean Cathay Pacific is unable to increase its flying activity for the last few months of the year as much as it hoped, it said on September 20, 2021.  

Cathay Pacific had hoped to fly 30% of its pre-pandemic capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021. However, it announced that it will now keep capacity at similar levels to August 2021, when it operated just 13% of its usual activity. 

“However, operational and passenger travel restrictions remain in place, continuing to constrain our ability to operate more flights,” Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam announced in a statement. 

“As such, we now only expect to maintain similar passenger capacity levels to August 2021 for the remainder of the year, whilst remaining responsive to any unexpected changes in travel restrictions,” Lam said. 

Cathay is aiming to keep its cash burn at less than HK$1 billion ($128 million) per month for the rest of 2021.  

In August 2021, the Hong Kong-based airline carried 135,353 passengers, equivalent to just 5% of pre-crisis numbers. Its load factor increased by 26.5 percentage points to 46.4%, the highest level since March 2020, Lam noted. 

August’s passenger numbers were driven by student traffic, especially from the Chinese mainland to the United States, leading Cathay to increase capacity on those routes. 

Lam said cargo demand remained buoyant, despite the fact August is traditionally a quiet month due to the summer holiday period in the northern hemisphere. The airline has welcomed two additional Boeing 777 “preighters”, taking its total to six and giving it more cargo capacity. 

“Towards the end of the month our freighter schedule ramped up to peak season levels, with transpacific flights notably increasing to 39 flights per week,” Lam said.

 

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Cathay Pacific is closing its pilot base in London, the United Kingdom.