Cathay’s April cargo figures dampened by quarantine restrictions

Milan malpensa
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Cathay Pacific carried 73,113 tonnes of cargo and mail in April 2021, a decrease of 13.6 per cent compared to a year earlier as quarantine restrictions for cargo aircrew lingered to mid-month.

The month’s revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTKs) fell 31.3 per cent year-on-year.

The cargo and mail load factor increased by 12.5 percentage points to 83 per cent, while capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 41.7 per cent. In the first four months of 2021, the tonnage fell by 26.7 per cent against a 40 per cent drop in capacity and a 27.5 per cent decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.

Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam says: “On the cargo side, while we welcomed the easing of quarantine restrictions for cargo aircrew in Hong Kong in mid-April, the positive impact of the relaxation was not immediately realised due to crew rostering lead time and our overall capacity last month remained significantly affected.

“The number of freighter and cargo-only passenger flights that we operated was lower than at any point since the Covid-19 pandemic began, limiting our ability to provide more lift to what was a reasonably buoyant cargo market, particularly on long-haul routings.

“This reduction in capacity together with the firm market led to a high load factor of 83 per cent.

“Our vaccine solution has gathered momentum and we surpassed the milestone of shipping 15 million Covid-19 vaccines around the world in mid-April. We have also seen surges in demand for related medical and healthcare supplies and we are focused on maximising our available capacity to facilitate the movement of these essential shipments,” Lam says.

On the passenger front Lam says there are still no signs of “immediate meaningful improvement” in overall passenger demand.

“While we are disappointed with the postponement of the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble flights, we are nevertheless very encouraged by the demand for two-way, all-purpose, quarantine-free air travel flight arrangements among our customers. We look forward to the resumption of our Air Travel Bubble flights.

“The latest relaxation of quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Hong Kong-based aircrew operating passenger flights as well as those operating cargo services is a welcome development that will progressively reduce our monthly cash burn and have a positive impact on our passenger and cargo business.

“Already, more than 80 per cent of our pilots and over 40 per cent of our cabin crew in Hong Kong have either booked or received their vaccination. We expect our May cargo schedule to gradually recover as more of our crew are fully vaccinated, and we are grateful for the enduring dedication of all our aircrew, who continue to do their jobs brilliantly during this challenging time.

“We also welcome the easing of quarantine requirements in Hong Kong for fully vaccinated travellers earlier this month, which is a crucial step in the return to normal international air travel,” he adds.


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