Cathay Pacific’s recovery continues with a strong performance in February 2024  

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Cathay Pacific has released its latest set of traffic figures for February 2024, which show that the Hong Kong-based carrier benefited from strong travel demand throughout the month and especially over the Chinese New Year holiday period.  

On February 18, 2024, at the height of the holiday season, the company achieved a significant milestone by carrying more than 70,000 passengers and operating a total of 272 passenger flight sectors, the highest daily numbers seen by the carrier since the start of the pandemic in December 2019. 

Cathay Pacific carried a total of 1.8 million passengers in February 2024, an impressive increase of 61.6% compared with February 2023. The month’s revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) increased 50.3% year-on-year. Passenger load factors decreased by 3.8 percentage points to 82.4%. However, this was a result of more aircraft re-entering the operational fleet over the past 12 months, with capacity (measured in available seat kilometers, or ASKs) increasing by 57.3% year-on-year. 

To add to Cathay’s remarkable figures for February 2024, in the first two months of 2024, the number of passengers carried by the airline increased by 63.9% against a 60.6% increase in ASKs and a 53.4% increase in RPKs, as compared with the same period for 2023. 

KITTIKUN YOKSAP / Shutterstock

“Our passenger business performed well in February as customers traveled for Chinese New Year,” said the airline’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, Lavinia Lau. “Demand from Hong Kong, the rest of the Greater Bay Area and the Chinese Mainland surged over the holiday period, especially on short-haul routes. We also saw good traffic between the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong. As a result, our Chinese Mainland routes achieved 85% load factors over Chinese New Year. 

“Our Japan routes also saw a strong resurgence in bookings, especially from Hong Kong, after the subdued demand in January following the devastating earthquakes that impacted Japan.” 

“Following the introduction of visa-free travel between the Chinese Mainland and various countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia in recent months, travel sentiment has remained consistently positive on these routes. We also resumed our Chennai and Colombo services in February, and these have been well received by customers. For Chennai, traffic has been good to and from Hong Kong, as well as onward destinations in the United States. For Colombo, we have seen good demand from customers from the Chinese Mainland, Japan, and Australia,” Lau added. 

Cathay Cargo results

Turning attention away from the passenger division, the airline carried 107,039 tons of cargo in February 2024, an increase of 3% compared with February 2023. The month’s cargo revenue ton kilometers (RFTKs) increased 3.8% year on year. The cargo load factor decreased by 7.5 percentage points to 59.2%, while available cargo ton kilometers (AFTKs) increased by 16.9% year on year.  

In the first two months of 2024, the tonnage increased by 11.4% against a 17.6% increase in AFTKs and a 7.5% increase in RFTKs, as compared with the same period for 2023, again in a display of how well the airline’s cargo division has recovered post-pandemic.  

Cathay Cargo

“For cargo, demand was weaker in February, which was expected given the timing of Chinese New Year, with tonnage down by 7% compared with the previous month,” said Lau. “However, when compared with February 2023, tonnage was up by 3%. There was a healthy spike in demand before Chinese New Year, and although demand from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland declined during the holiday period, the impact was also less than in previous years.”  

“Taken across the two months, we saw good growth in tonnage on long-haul routes from other markets in Asia, as well as on routes from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland. We observed encouraging growth in special products such as pharmaceuticals, perishables, and machinery parts. Overall, for January and February 2024 combined, our cargo performance has met expectations, with increased tonnage carried compared with the same period last year,” she added. 


Now that Cathay Pacific appears to be firmly on its way to a full post-pandemic recovery, Lau is keen to turn the airline’s attention to future opportunities that might present themselves in 2024 and beyond.  

“Looking ahead, on the travel side we anticipate demand will progressively grow leading up to the Easter holidays, especially on long-haul routes,” said Lau. “We are seeing strong demand for business travel into Hong Kong with various exhibitions taking place in the city.”  

She added: “Throughout our rebuild journey, we have put in great effort to not only resume destinations and increase frequencies but also expand our network and bring more business opportunities and leisure travel destinations for the Hong Kong traveling public. 

Cathay Pacific switches from Boeing to Airbus with A350F freighter order

“On the cargo side, we expect demand to pick up towards the second half of the month as we approach the end of the first quarter. E-commerce continues to drive demand out of Hong Kong, although we maintain a balance in our tonnage with the wide.”  

In further clear signs that Cathay Pacific is looking to the future with optimism after a tough few years for the carrier, the airline is currently weighing up options for an A330 fleet replacement and is also preparing for the arrival of its first long-range Boeing 777-9s from the middle of 2025. It also has six Airbus A350 freighters on order for its cargo division.  

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