Quarantine hits Cathay Pacific volumes

Photo: Cathay Pacific

Quarantine measures imposed on Hong Kong-based aircrew saw Cathay Pacific suffer a 31.8% fall in January’s cargo volumes to 74,242 tonnes compared with the same month in 2021.

The Hong Kong-based passenger and freighter aircraft operator advised that, due to ongoing strict crew quarantine requirements, it will continue to operate a reduced schedule for long-haul cargo operations.

Services to Europe and the Middle East will be served by passenger aircraft carrying cargo only, while trans-Pacific frequencies will be similar to January.

Cathay’s cargo flight capacity is likely to remain less than one-third of pre-COVID-19 levels in the first quarter, said the carrier.

Last month’s cargo volume was also a 55.5% decrease compared with pre-Covid January 2019. January’s cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) decreased 64.4% year-on-year, and were down 73.6% compared to January 2019.

The cargo load factor decreased by 2.8 percentage points to 76.6%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 63.1% year-on-year, and was down by 78.8% versus January 2019.

On cargo, airline management said in a statement: “In light of the additional quarantine measures imposed on Hong Kong-based aircrew, our cargo flight capacity in January reduced by about 69% compared with December 2021, to about 21% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

“This reduction was felt most acutely on our long-haul frequencies, where in the first week of January we had to cancel all such services for seven days while reviewing our crew rostering arrangements.

“Since then, we have only been able to mount limited freighter flights to the Americas, while the shipment of goods to Europe, the Middle East and Southwest Pacific is being provided by passenger aircraft carrying only cargo.”

Regional operations remained intact and the airline’s teams were able to place added focus on opportunities in the Chinese Mainland and the region.

This resulted in increased cargo capacity for services to destinations in Northeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent where there was good demand prior to the Lunar New Year holidays.

In its outlook, Cathay stated: “Regarding cargo, demand during the first half of February was affected by the reduced production over the Lunar New Year holiday period, though it is expected to progressively improve during the second half of the month.

“In light of the ongoing strict crew quarantine requirements, we will continue to operate a reduced schedule for our long-haul cargo operations, with services to Europe and the Middle East continuing to be served by passenger aircraft carrying cargo only, while trans-Pacific frequencies will remain similar to January.”

It added: “However, we have managed to restore some freighter frequencies to the Southwest Pacific and we will continue to maximise opportunities provided by our regional markets. Overall, our cargo flight capacity is likely to remain less than one-third of pre-COVID-19 levels in the first quarter.”

Cathay Pacific to be probed over Covid outbreak

Cathay Pacific outlines “substantial” freighter flight cuts in Q1

Cathay Pacific announces 7 day suspension of long-haul cargo operations

Hong Kong sets strict air cargo crew quarantine

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