Cathay Pacific Cargo under pressure in H1

By Damian Brett

A Cathay Pacific B747 freighter at Bahrain

Cathay Pacific saw cargo revenues, volumes and yields decline in the first half of the year as the US-China trade war took its toll on performance.

The Hong Kong-headquartered carrier reported an 11.4% year-on-year decline in cargo revenues to HK$11.5bn, volumes were down 5.7% on a year ago to 979,000 tonnes and cargo yields were 2.6% behind a year ago at HK$1.88.

The airline group said that the revenue decline reflected weaker global trade brought about in part by the US-China trade tensions.

Flown cargo capacity of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon increased by 1.1%, principally due to additional belly cargo space in newly acquired passenger aircraft.

“Facing weak demand, we rationalised freighter capacity and emphasised shipments of specialist cargo,” the carrier group said.

As a result of the capacity increase, load factor decreased by 4.9 percentage points, to 63.4%.

While overall volumes declined, Cathay Pacific said there was a good growth in Southeast Asia cargo shipments in the early part of 2019, while it increased freighter services to Singapore from January 2019.

In April 2019, the company expanded its joint business agreement with Lufthansa Cargo so as to start eastbound joint shipments from Europe to Hong Kong.

Under the agreement, Hong Kong is directly connected to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, London (Gatwick and Heathrow), Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome and Zurich.

The carrier also recently announced a shake up of reporting lines that affected the cargo business.

The overall airline, including passenger services, returned to the black with profits of HK$1.3bn for the first half compared with a loss of HK$263m last year, helped by a decline in fuel costs.

Chairman John Slosar said: “We are in the final year of our three-year transformation programme, which is designed to make our businesses leaner, more agile and able to compete more effectively. “Work on the programme continues and, as evidenced by our return to profitability in 2018, we are moving in the right direction.

“Our positive performance continued in the first half of 2019, but the operating environment for our airlines worsened as geopolitical and trade tensions intensified.”

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