Cathay says Feb traffic showed strong demand

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Cathay-air
(IMAGE: Cathay Pacific)

MRO DubaiCathay Pacific released its traffic figures for February 2024, which showed strong travel demand throughout the month, in particular during the Lunar New Year holiday period. On 18 February, Cathay Pacific achieved a significant milestone by carrying more than 70,000 passengers and operating a total of 272 passenger flight sectors, the most on a single day since the start of the pandemic.

Cathay Pacific carried a total of 1,801,174 passengers in February 2024, an increase of 61.6% compared with February 2023. The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased 50.3% year on year. Passenger load factor decreased by 3.8 percentage points to 82.4%, while available seat kilometres (ASKs) increased by 57.3% year on year. In the first two months of 2024, the number of passengers carried 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.

The airline carried 107,039 tonnes of cargo in February 2024, an increase of 3% compared with February 2023. The month’s cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) increased 3.8% year on year. The cargo load factor decreased by 7.5 percentage points to 59.2%, while available cargo tonne kilometres (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.

Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Lavinia Lau said: “Our passenger business performed well in February as customers travelled for Chinese New Year. 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 said

Cathay Cargo
(PHOTO: 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. 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,” Lau said. “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 combined, our cargo performance has met expectations, with increased tonnage carried compared with the same period last year. Earlier this month, we were delighted to welcome the IATA World Cargo Symposium – one of the largest global events in the air cargo industry – to Hong Kong for the first time. The event achieved record attendance and as the host airline, Cathay Cargo was pleased to be able to showcase everything that makes Hong Kong best-in-class as an air cargo logistics hub.

Outlook
“Looking ahead, on the travel side we anticipate demand will progressively grow leading up to the Easter holidays, especially on long-haul routes. We are seeing strong demand for business travel into Hong Kong with various exhibitions taking place in the city. The extension of the Individual Visit Scheme to include travellers from Xi’an and Qingdao will also boost sentiment for travel to Hong Kong, especially during the Labour Day holiday in May,” Lau said. “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 travelling public. In addition, we have been a staunch supporter of the Central Government’s Belt and Road Initiative, serving 21 destinations in 14 participating countries already. We are excited to announce that Cathay Pacific will be launching passenger flights to Riyadh, the capital and financial hub of Saudi Arabia, in the fourth quarter of this year, and we will share more details in due course.

“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 range of freight solutions we provide to customers to meet their cargo requirements.“

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