Cathay Pacific remains positive on cargo despite latest decline

By Damian Brett

Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific remains positive about the upcoming cargo peak season despite registering another downturn in volumes in September and a reduction in cargo-only flights.

The Hong Kong-hubbed airline reported a 20.6% year-on-year decline in cargo carried to 104,055 tonnes during September while the cargo load factor stood at 66.4% – a drop of 13.3 percentage points compared with a year earlier.

Chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam pointed out that last year’s volumes were at an “exceptionally high level” as the world began its recovery from the Covid-pandemic.

The airline had reduced some capacity ahead of the expected slowdown.

“We had reduced cargo flight capacity in expectation of this and operated fewer cargo-only passenger services on long-haul routes,” Lam said.

“However, the fall in demand compared with last year was greater than predicted, largely due to weaker consumer demand and reduced manufacturing activities in the Chinese Mainland.

“This prolonged the dip we typically see after the Mid-Autumn Festival and also meant the pre-National Day Holiday uptick was relatively mild.”

September’s challenging results followed flat demand during the summer.

Looking ahead to the peak season, Lam remained positive.

“Demand from the Chinese Mainland softened over the National Day holidays, but is expected to firm up again in the latter part of the month,” he said.

“We remain positive that there will be solid demand over the traditional cargo peak period, and while it will not reach the levels achieved last year, we expect it to still be above historical averages.”

He added that passenger services – and therefore bellyhold cargo operations – continue to recover which extended routings and more consistent services for cargo customers.

Cathay Pacific claws back capacity amid flat demand

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