Cathay Pacific anticipates further cash burn amid strict quarantine

Hong Kong’s flag-carrier Cathay Pacific anticipates further cash burn in 2022 as stringent aircrew quarantine rules continue to hamper the airline’s operations.  

According to the airline’s preliminary assessment, the carrier expects to record a loss of HK$1-1.5 billion ($128-193 million) per month from February 2022.  

“In late December and then early January, the Hong Kong SAR Government further tightened aircrew quarantine requirements and travel restrictions,” Cathay Pacific’s chief executive officer Augustus Tang announced in a statement. 

“Until conditions improve, we are doing everything in our power to maximize capacity and estimate that mitigation measures to increase crew resources will enable us to operate approximately an additional 5% more cargo flight capacity than we are currently operating,” Tang added.  

Currently, Cathay Pacific continues to operate cargo flights to Mainland China and North America. Cargo operations from Europe and Southwest Pacific are served by cargo-only passenger flights.  

According to the airline, Cathay Pacific’s passenger operations to Mainland China will remain unaffected. However, the rest of the airline’s network will continue to see a reduction due to stringent aircrew quarantine and travel restrictions.  

In a statement, Cathay said its passenger traffic “remained extremely subdued” throughout 2021. The airline carried 717,059 passengers during 2021.  

“This compares to the 4.6 million passengers that flew in 2020 and 35.2 million passengers that we flew in 2019,” according to the airline.  

However, while passenger traffic continued to be affected, cargo operations remained strong. In 2021, the airline carried approximately 1.3 million tons of cargo.  

“We have reduced operating cash burn from the HK$2.5-3.0 billion ($321-385 million) range in the first half of 2020 down to marginally cash generative in the second half of 2021,” Tang explained.  

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