As protests in Hong Kong continue, local airlines keep suffering traffic losses. Cathay Pacific provided its latest traffic update for November 2019, depicting how difficult the month was for the carrier.
Overall, the Cathay group airlines, namely Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, carried 2.6 million passengers, 9% less compared to the same month in 2018. The average Load Factor dropped by 3.2% to 80.1%, while capacity decreased by 1.5%, corresponding to the falling demand for travel to Hong Kong.
Cargo operations also suffered, with 3.9% less tonnage carried during the month. Load Factors went down by 1.5% to 68.6% with capacity and Revenue Freight Ton Kilometers (RFTK) also dropped by 3.8% and 5.8% compared to November 2018.
The most painful spot for the airline is, of course, inbound traffic to Hong Kong, which dropped by 46%, while in October it was down by 36% compared to the corresponding months in 2018. Outbound traffic decreased by 8%.
“Our increasing reliance on transit Hong Kong traffic, which has been less impacted, together with intense competition has meant overall yield remained under significant pressure,” said Cathay’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam. “Our regional routes, in particular, mainland China and Northeast Asia, continue to experience weak demand for travel into Hong Kong,” he added.
The only positive regions for the carrier were Europe and South Asia, Middle East and Africa in terms of Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPK), increasing by 1.3% and 4.8%, respectively. The number of flights was reduced by 5.8%, as Cathay Pacific operated 6,227 flights in November 2019.
“Overall, our expectation is that the rest of 2019 will remain incredibly challenging and we continue to expect our second-half financial results to be significantly below those of our first half,” noted Lam, indicating that for the first time in “a long while” the Hong Kong-based airline will reduce capacity in 2020 – going from an initial prediction of 3.1% growth to a downsize of 1.4% year-on-year (YoY).
Cathay Pacific is not the only airline struggling. Another local carrier, Hong Kong Airlines, almost lost its license over its financial situation. On December 16, 2019, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) said it took control of seven aircraft belonging to Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) due to unpaid fees.