Cathay Pacific: August figures cement positive outlook for 2023

A Cathay Pacific Airbus climbs out after takeoff.
Vismay Bhadra, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cathay Pacific has released its traffic figures for August 2023, which show that the airline surpassed the milestone of carrying more than 10 million passengers in the first eight months of 2023.

Strong Passenger Numbers

Despite prevailing industry challengers, Cathay Pacific carried a staggering total of 1,784,980 passengers in August 2023, signifying an astonishing 603% increase compared to the same month in the previous year.

The Metrics Behind the Surge

Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs): August 2023 witnessed a remarkable increase of 342.8% in RPKs compared to the previous year.

This metric is a crucial indicator of the distance traveled by paying passengers and highlights the airline’s expanding reach.

Passenger Load Factor: The passenger load factor surged by an impressive 19.4 percentage points to reach 88%, indicating that Cathay Pacific’s flights were operating at near full capacity.

Capacity Expansion: Measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), capacity increased by a substantial 244.9% year on year.

This growth highlights the airline’s strategic approach to accommodating the surging demand.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 at the terminal.
Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific


Year-to-Date Success

In the first eight months of 2023, Cathay Pacific carried an astonishing 1,302% more passengers compared to the same period in 2022.

This resounding achievement is paired with a 633.1% increase in capacity and an 876.7% increase in RPKs, showcasing the airline’s consistent growth trajectory.

Cargo Operations on the Rise

Cathay Pacific’s success is not limited to passenger operations alone. In August 2023, the airline carried 116,919 tonnes of cargo, marking an 11.5% increase compared to the same month in 2022. This impressive performance is indicative of Cathay Pacific’s multifaceted approach to air travel.

The Cargo Metrics

Cargo Revenue Tonne Kilometres (RFTKs): August 2023 witnessed a commendable increase of 13.2% in RFTKs year on year, demonstrating the growing demand for Cathay Pacific’s cargo services.

A Cathay Pacific aircraft is refuelled with SAF.
Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific

Cargo Load Factor: Despite the overall increase in tonnage, the cargo load factor decreased by 8.2 percentage points to 58.8%. This decline is attributed to a significant increase in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), which grew by 29% year on year.

In the first eight months of 2023, Cathay Pacific’s cargo tonnage surged by an impressive 20.8%, complemented by an 87.8% increase in capacity and a 60.5% rise in RFTKs when compared to the same period in 2022.

Comments from Chief Customer & Commercial Officer

Lavinia Lau, Cathay Pacific’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, offered valuable insights into the airline’s performance, stating, “Travel demand remained strong as we entered the second month of the traditional peak summer season in August.”

“We continued to increase our flight frequencies to cater for the strong demand. Our newly resumed flights serving Johannesburg received a very positive response, in particular among business and leisure travelers flying to Hong Kong and beyond.”

A Season of Diverse Demand

Leisure Travel: The first half of August saw consistently high demand for leisure travel from Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area to various short-haul destinations.

Outbound Travel from Japan: Mid-August witnessed an increased demand for outbound travel from Japan to Hong Kong and onward destinations in Asia and Europe, coinciding with the Obon holiday period in Japan.

Student Travel: Towards the end of the month, there was a notable surge in student travel to Canada, the US, and the UK from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland, anticipating the commencement of the new school year.

Pieter van Marion from Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lavinia Lau also commented on Cathay Pacific’s cargo business, highlighting its resilience during quieter periods for air cargo. She noted, “As has been the case for a number of months now, e-commerce remains a bright spot for the business with tonnage continuing to see positive growth.”

Cathay Pacific Future Outlook

As we look ahead, Cathay Pacific remains optimistic about its future prospects. Lavinia Lau explained, “Continued demand for student travel to the UK, in particular, will provide a good boost in September, while overall, the outlook for the rest of 2023 looks promising.”

Expanding Flight Offerings

The airline is committed to providing more options for its customers, especially to and from the Chinese Mainland. Currently operating about 170 return flights per week to 16 airports in 15 cities, Cathay Pacific is continually expanding its reach.

Additionally, the airline recently announced the resumption of its Colombo and Chennai services in February 2024, demonstrating its commitment to reestablishing connections for its valued customers.

Cargo Anticipates Peak Season

For the cargo division, September marks the start of the traditional peak period, with demand beginning to rise significantly.

This is attributed to businesses planning ahead for consumer sales events such as ‘Singles’ Day’ in the Chinese Mainland and ‘Black Friday’ in long-haul markets, along with new consumer product launches on the horizon.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
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