CORONAVIRUS: Cathay announces drastic cuts to capacity while Hong Kong Express suspends all operations

Cathay Pacific killed off its Dragon affiliate and laid off thousands of workers. (PHOTO: Cathay Pacific)

More bad news from Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon said they would cut capacity by 96 percent across their passenger network in April and May and Hong Kong Express said it would suspend all operations until the end of April. Both decisions were made because of the continued spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world that has infected more than 200,000 and killed more than people.

Cathay and Cathay Drago said they plan to operate a “bare skeleton passenger flight schedule in April and May, though our freighter capacity remains intact. Our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world which will further dampen passenger demand”.

Matt Driskill
A screenshot of the virus tracking site at Johns Hopkins University. Click on the image to access the live site. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Cathay Pacific will operate three flights per week to 12 destinations: London (Heathrow), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo (Narita), Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney. Cathay Dragon will operate three flights per week to three destinations: Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong), and Kuala Lumpur.

Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam. (PHOTO: Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said: “As Hong Kong’s home airlines, it is important that we continue to provide important passenger and cargo connections to and from the Hong Kong hub. We will therefore endeavour to maintain a minimal number of flights to and from key destinations in our network to ensure these vital arteries remain open. While our freighter network remains intact, we are also ramping up our cargo capacity by mounting charter services and operating certain suspended passenger services purely for airfreight to meet cargo customer demand.

“We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented. We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically.”

HK Express shuts down

(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express said Friday (20 March) that is suspending all flight operations on a short-term basis starting from 23 March until 30 April 2020 in light of the significant drop in travel demand as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and growing travel restrictions imposed by Hong Kong SAR government as well as various governments across Asia. The airline is looking into resuming flight operations on 1 May 2020 and closely monitoring the development of the situation.  Ticket sales remain available for May 2020 and beyond. HK Express has already cancelled about 2,000 flight sectors, covering 23 out of our 25 routes across Asia.

The company is also moving ahead with leave plans for crew by reallocating leave originally assigned in the second half of the year to the period between April and June 2020. This is being done to reserve manpower for when demand returns. HK Express has already taken a number of measures to help it preserve cash, including cost containment, recruitment suspension, supplier management and the implementation of the Special No Pay Leave Scheme to mitigate the financial impact of the situation on the company.

HK Express CEO Mandy Ng said: “This is a decision we have not taken lightly. Unfortunately, it is now essential in order to ensure we see ourselves through this extremely difficult period. Given all the challenges we have been facing, preserving our cash position is key to make sure we stay together as team.”


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