Student travel gives Cathay relatively august month

Finance | Staff reporter and Reuters 21 Sep 2021

Cathay Pacific carried 135,353 passengers last month, the most in a year but warned that it cannot reach its expected level by the end of the year.

That was an increase of 278.4 percent compared to a year ago, but the number was still a 95.3 percent decrease compared to the pre-pandemic level.

Its passenger performance for the month, with capacity at about 13 percent of pre-pandemic levels, was far less than the previous pledge of 30 percent of pre-pandemic capacity by the fourth quarter.

It now only expects to maintain passenger capacity levels similar to the past month for the rest of the year as operational and passenger travel restrictions remain in place, continuing to constrain its ability to operate more flights, said chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.

It will continue to target a cash burn of less than HK$1 billion per month for the rest of the year.

The passenger performance was driven primarily by student traffic, in particular from the mainland to the US. Its Shanghai flights notably increased to three times per day from mid-August, it said in an exchange filing.

Meanwhile, demand for student travel from Hong Kong and the mainland in China to the UK also gradually picked up from mid-August.

It carried 124,278 tonnes of cargo and mail, an increase of 21.7 percent compared to last August, but a 23 percent decrease compared with 2019. Cargo capacity increased about 9 percent month on month.

The company said while August is traditionally a quieter month for cargo due to the summer holiday period in the northern hemisphere, it saw strong demand this year as a peak season is driven by the need for inventory replenishment due to ongoing air capacity constraints and disruptions to supply chains due to seaport congestion.

Cathay also said it is committed to using sustainable aviation fuel for 10 percent of its fuel consumption by 2030 as part of its broader commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the same as Delta Air Lines and British Airways owner IAG.

Cathay said a deal with Fulcrum BioEnergy would give it access to some SAF for flights departing the United States from 2024.

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