Cathay Pacific cargo volumes fall by almost 50%

By Damian Brett

A Cathay Pacific B747 freighter at Bahrain

Cathay Pacific saw its cargo volumes decline by 48.3% year-on-year in April, but since then it has ramped up capacity.

The decline meant that the Hong Kong-hubbed airline group handled a total of 84,634 tonnes during the month.

Meanwhile, cargo and mail revenue tonne kms slipped 37.3% year on year in April to 568m and capacity was down by 44.1%, resulting in load factors improving by 7.6 percentage points to 70.1.

Cathay Pacific group chief customer and commercial officer, Ronald Lam, said the decline was down to the reduction in passenger flying caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Overall tonnage uplift in April dropped by almost a third compared to the previous month,” he said, “it being particularly impacted by the further contraction of our belly capacity across our passenger network.

“The movement of certain cargo, such as perishables, seafood, live animals, industrial parts and equipment, was also negatively affected by lockdown measures around the world.

“Nevertheless, we continued to carry significant quantities of medical supplies from mainland China and Hong Kong.

“Significant effort was made to prioritise capacity for routings with the highest airfreight demand, most notably to the Americas, Australia and Europe.

“We also increased the utilisation of our existing freighter fleet, chartered more flights from our subsidiary Air Hong Kong, and successfully operated over 500 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights – more than double the number we operated in March.

“To further expand our available capacity, at the end of April we began loading cargo in the cabins of our Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, which we expect will serve long-haul markets especially well in the months to come.”

Nelson Chin, general manager cargo commercial said that as of May 10 the group had reinstated a regular schedule of cargo-only passenger flights to 15 destinations.

It also now has approval to carry cargo in the passenger cabins of B777s, adding an additional six to seven tonnes to the aircraft’s cargo capacity.

He added that the company is also seeking approval to cabin load cargo on other aircraft types.

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