Cathay Pacific to fly one-third of its fleet abroad for storage

Alexandra at lb.wikipedia / CC BY-SA

According to Hong Kong media, some aircraft of Cathay Pacific and its affiliate airlines will leave for Alice Springs in Australia for storage this week. The first batch will involve about 12 Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon aircraft. Cathay Pacific said it had decided to move about one-third of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon fleet to locations outside of Hong Kong in the next few months under prudent operation and asset management considerations.

According to sources, in view of the continued weak global passenger demand in the future, Cathay Pacific decided to fly some of its aircraft to desert areas for storage, and avoid the impact of humid weather in Hong Kong and the coming storm season on the planes stored at its airport. More than 50 aircraft will be included, and it is estimated that the storage period will last at least 3 years.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Pacific dragon airlines currently have 134 and 48 aircraft in their fleet, respectively, according to Cathay Pacific’s annual report. About one-third of the total aircraft of the two airlines, which counts about 60 aircraft, need to be transferred. Cathay Pacific said it will move the first batch to Alice Springs in Australia, and is discussing the use of suitable facilities in other areas. Cathay Pacific said the company’s current aircraft are stored at Hong Kong airport, most in remote parking, taxiways, and other operational areas available for parking. The non-operational aircraft need to be relocated outside of Hong Kong to get away from the humid weather. Alice Spring, an oasis in the desert located between Darwin and Adelaide, sits on the bank of Todd River, which is often dry and waterless, makes a good option.

Former Cathay Pacific pilot and Legislative Council member, Jeremy Tam, reckons that storing planes at desert airports could save a considerable amount of money in parking fees. However, even if the desert is not as humid as Hong Kong, lengthy storage and exposure to the sun will inevitably cost a fortune in repairs and maintenance.

The first Cathay Pacific aircraft CX3491, an Airbus A330-343, had departed yesterday and landed smoothly this morning.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have adjusted their overall passenger capacity to about 7% in July this year, and intend to operate only up to 10% of regular flight frequency in August. The relevant plans will be adjusted in response to the further relaxation or tightening of the government’s epidemic prevention measures.

Cathay Pacific earlier expected to record a huge loss of HK$9.9 billion ($1.3 billion) in the first half of the year. Despite all the measures taken, passenger revenue fell to only about 1% of last year’s level, implying that Cathay Pacific had an initial monthly operating loss of HK$2.5 billion to HK$3 billion in cash. Cathay Pacific’s latest announcement shows that even though it has reduced passenger service as much as possible, it still maintains a loss of about HK$1.5 billion per month.

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