Cathay Pacific releases combined traffic figures for September 2019

Cathay Pacific Group has announced that tonnage carried and load factor for the year to date are “significantly below” the same period last year, despite small signs of improvement compared to August.

In the first nine months of 2019, tonnage fell by 6.8% against an 0.7% increase in capacity. The traffic figures showed a 7% decrease in cargo and mail revenue freight tonne kilometres (RFTK), compared with the same period in 2018.

The group, which includes both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, carried 172,637 tonnes of cargo and mail in September, a drop of 7.1% compared to September 2018. Load factor fell by 3.7 percentage points to 65.5%. Capacity, measured as available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) was up marginally (0.1%), with RFTK down by 5.3%.

Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “As anticipated, our cargo business showed signs of improvement compared with August as we stepped into air freight’s traditional high-demand season. Most markets saw a better month-on-month performance and we mounted a number of charter operations on top of our scheduled services to meet added demand for airfreight to coincide with the release of new electronic products.

“However, the overall market remains challenging and competitive with tonnage carried and load factor for the year to date still significantly below the same period last year.”

Lam tacitly acknowledged the effect on passenger numbers of the continued protest marches in the groups’ home market, noting that “revenue was adversely affected by weakened market sentiment, particularly for travel into Hong Kong”. Inbound passenger traffic dropped by 38% in September and passenger load factor was down 7.2 percentage points, both unchanged from August.

He said there was a “significant shortfall in inbound booking for the remainder of 2019” and so the group will be taking a number of “short-term tactical measures to respond to this shortfall, most notably realigning capacity for the winter season (Oct 2019 – March 2020).

“We continue to closely monitor market sentiment and global travel trends in order to best align passenger and cargo capacity with demand.”

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