LONDON – Hong Kong national carrier, Cathay Pacific has announced its carriage and cargo numbers for the first month of 2023.
Whereas a large proportion of the globe has been open for travel since late 2021 and into various times throughout 2022, mainland China and Hong Kong have only opened their borders as recently as 8th January 2023.
As a result, these travel figures still will not be based on full operational service. This aside, the airlines numbers show positive signs and the connectivity with the rest of the world continues to be restored.
“The new year got off to a positive start in January as Cathay Pacific carried more than one million passengers for the first time since the start of the pandemic.”
“We carried on average more than 33,000 passengers per day, up from about 26,000 per day in December 2022, and operated 18% more capacity than we did in December.”
“We also continued to add more destinations in January, with our Phuket and Xi’an flights resuming,” said Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Lavinia Lau.
Cathay carried a total of 1,031,893 passengers during January. This translates into a 4000% rise compared to 2022, given the position both the region and airline was in regarding Covid.
Passenger load increased from 40.4% to 86.8%, and overall capacity increased by 1717%, Capacity its measure in Available Seat Kilometres (ASK).
Naturally, as the demand increases post Covid, Cathay have been increasing their flight schedule and by months end were operating three return flights per day to Shanghai and eleven return flights a week to Beijing.
CCO Lau noted that figures have been bolstered by a good performance over the Lunar New Year, where increased travel demand was evident from Hong Kong, Japan, Bangkok and Singapore.
Unfortunately, regardless of the demand being there, some flights between Hong Kong and Japan were cancelled due to restrictions imposed by the Japanese authorities on the number of flights which airlines can operate out of HK.
From the perspective of cargo operations, interest was there and this saw a small increase in demand; however when factories closed for the Lunar New year holiday, the requirement lessened. This was not a surprise and was anticipated by the business.
Lau summarised cargo performance by saying: “This drop-off was expected and we rationalised our freighter capacity in advance to reflect the reduced demand.”
“Therefore, our tonnage in January decreased 11% month on month, while our cargo flight capacity declined 4% compared with the previous month. Load factor was about 62%.”
The Hong Kong based carrier is looking to increase its passenger flight capacity as much as possible, especially as we approach the Easter holiday period.
The airline envisages demand for flights to and from the Chinese Mainland for both point-to-point and connecting travel will increase and are still at the drawing board attempting to come up with viable solutions for their customers.
Laud concluded by noting the position of Cathay’s Cargo operations by saying: “Regarding cargo, demand will take some time to recover following the Lunar New Year holidays.”
“We expect regional lanes to resume earlier than long-haul lanes, as is typical for this period.”
According to airlines ratings company, Skytrax, Cathay Pacific are in the top 20% of airlines in the world, and are considered a 5 star carrier.
This, paired with the pent up demand for travel in the region since the borders have reopened, could see 2023 be a really successful year for the carrier with Covid now behind us.