Cathay Pacific targets cargo growth as it records 2021 loss

Photo: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Group faced an attributable loss of HK$5.5bn in 2021 and is looking to increase “cargo capacity as much as practicable”.

Cargo revenue in 2021 was HK$32.3bn, an increase of 31.8% compared to 2020. Cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTK) decreased by 1.1% to 8.2bn RFTK.

The decline in volumes comes as the airline group’s passenger operations remain below pre-covid levels resulting in reduced bellyhold capacity.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s zero-covid case policy also continues to hinder operations.

Capacity, measured by available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTK), decreased by 10.9%. Load factor increased by 8.1 percentage points to 81.4%. Yield increased by 33.1% to HK$3.94.

Cathay Pacific chairman Patrick Healy said: “Cargo demand grew ahead of the traditional peak season in the second half of the year. In the months leading up to the end of 2021, we operated our freighter fleet at peak capacity, and supplemented our cargo capacity with additional cargo-only passenger flight operations.

“We also operated six of our Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft that have been partially converted into “preighters” by removing some of the seats in the passenger cabins to provide additional cargo-carrying capacity.

“In October, we carried more than 136,000 tonnes of cargo – the most we have carried in a single month since the start of COVID-19. Our airlines have carried more than 190 million Covid-19 vaccines since the start of COVID-19.”

Covid quarantine measures implemented by the Hong Kong Government have hit Cathay Pacific’s operations hard. The company said while restrictions remain it expects “to operate around 2% of pre-Covid-19 passenger flight capacity, and our cargo flight capacity is likely to remain less than one-third of pre-Covid-19 levels”.

Passenger revenue decreased by 61.6% to HK$4,346m in 2021 compared with 2020. Revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) decreased by 79.5%. Capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASK), was down by 61.8%. Passenger load factor was 31.1% compared with 58% in 2020.

In January, the carrier stopped all freighter flights to Europe until the end of March in response to stricter quarantine measures for pilots and flight crews. Other destinations were also affected.


Hong Kong sets strict air cargo crew quarantine

Quarantine hits Cathay Pacific volumes

Cathay Pacific outlines “substantial” freighter flight cuts in Q1

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]