Cathay Pacific cargo capacity continues to recover

By Damian Brett

A Cathay Pacific B747 freighter at Bahrain

Cathay Pacific’s cargo capacity increased in May as it continued to recover from the introduction of stricter crew quarantine rules in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong in February introduced rules requiring crew to quarantine after an international journey, which affected cargo flights, but these were relaxed in mid-April for vaccinated crew.

The airline has been gradually re-introducing capacity as vaccinated crew have been put back on the roster and last month saw a further recovery.

Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “The relaxation of crew quarantine requirements in mid-April enabled us to gradually reinstate cargo capacity throughout May, although we are yet to return to our full freighter schedule due to crew rostering lead time.

“Last month, we operated 24% more freighter flights and 18% more cargo-only passenger flights than we did in April, providing more lift to meet demand from a reasonably buoyant air cargo market.”

He added: “Passenger belly capacity will remain constrained, but with quarantine restrictions easing due to the high uptake of vaccinations by our freighter crews, we will see a further resumption of our freighter frequencies from Hong Kong to various regions in our network.”

Lam said that cargo demand remained “firm” with demand for May down 16.9% in cargo and mail revenue tonne kms, while for tonnages there was a 6.4% drop.

Load factors remain high at 81% – a 7.5 percentage point increase on last year.

“Among all sales areas, Taiwan stood out last month with considerable export demand.

“We also experienced strong inbound and outbound demand on services to Asia, the Americas and Europe, which enabled our sales teams to maintain high load factors on these routes.”

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