Asia News Mar 20

Cathay Pacific slashes flights in April and May

HK airline to will cut passenger capacity by 96% in April and May as travel bans hit demand

Cathay Pacific slashes flights in April and May
Cathay Pacific will slash its passenger service in April and May amid travel bans but its cargo capacity is intact. Photo: iStock

(ATF) Cathay Pacific said it will slash passenger capacity by 96% in April and May as travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic crimps seat demand across the world but said its capacity as a freighter remained intact.

It warned that “our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world which will further dampen passenger demand.”

The global pandemic is yet to peak and the economic damage from travel restrictions, social isolation and supply-chain disruptions has already sparked panic in financial markets. About 244,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus, which has now claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Cathay’s decision comes amid the stark forecast by the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) that by the end of May 2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt.

Cathay Pacific said it will operate three flights per week to 12 destinations: London (Heathrow), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo (Narita), Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney.

Its regional arm Cathay Dragon will operate three flights per week to 3 destinations: Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong), and Kuala Lumpur.

“While our freighter network remains intact, we are also ramping up our cargo capacity by mounting charter services and operating certain suspended passenger services purely for airfreight to meet cargo customer demand,” Cathay Pacific's Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said.

Cathay Pacific shares are trading at their lowest level since 2009. The airline was hit hard by the protests in Hong Kong in the second half of last year, and Covid-19 has been a double whammy for the airline.