Cathay Pacific hopeful on cargo following latest quarantine development

By Damian Brett

Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Cargo has welcomed the latest change to Hong Kong’s crew quarantine rules.

Earlier this week, the government announced that fully vaccinated Hong Kong-based aircrew for freighters and cargo-only passenger flights would no longer be required to quarantine after returning from an international journey, excluding crew that layover in the UK and South Africa.

“This will have a positive impact on our cargo business while also progressively reducing our monthly operating cash burn,” said Cathay Pacific group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.

There was already an exemption for crew with a layover in Anchorage, but now added to this, all freighter crew that layover in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Thailand will no longer be subject to mandatory quarantine on return to Hong Kong.

“We welcome the Hong Kong SAR Government’s announcement,” Cathay Pacific said. “These changes enable us to increase our freighter and cargo-only passenger flight operations with immediate effect and gradually restore our full freighter schedule.

“We are reviewing crew resources for May and will announce our May freighter schedule as soon as possible.”

In March, the carrier’s cargo capacity dropped by 25% compared with February as a result of measures introduced on February 20 requiring all Hong Kong-based crews to quarantine for two or three weeks when returning from an international flight.

“We are acutely aware of the impact these measures have had on our partners and shippers and we sincerely thank you for your patience and continued support during this difficult time,” the airline said. “We look forward to restoring our full market presence as soon as possible.”

The airline also announced its performance figures for March today. The airline carried 83,329 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, a decrease of 30.1% compared to March 2020, while its load factor was up by 8.9 percentage points to 86.4% on last year.

“Our overall cargo capacity was constrained by the stringent crew quarantine requirements in Hong Kong, resulting in a 39.4% year-on-year reduction in capacity,” said Lam. “This was despite our efforts to operate more cargo-only passenger flights as well as chartered freighter flights from our subsidiary, Air Hong Kong.

“Cargo demand was strong in March, particularly from Northeast Asia and the Americas, while demand from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland also ramped up during the latter half of the month. Load factor improved to an all-time high of 86.4%, whilst the revenue share for our Priority LIFT product continued to increase as customers sought express solutions for their critical shipments.”

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