Passenger numbers rose by 25.8 percent compared to the same period last year, though the figure was still a 98.4 percent decrease from pre-pandemic levels.
With strict quarantine requirements still in place and international borders largely closed across the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong’s flag carrier is facing a slow recovery in the months ahead. Cathay Pacific carried a total of 54,092 passengers in July, a slight improvement from June — when 40,651 travelers boarded the airline’s flights — and more than double May’s figure. The daily average, meanwhile, was just 1,745 per day. Overall passenger capacity rose by a paltry 0.7 percent, even with the resumption of regular services to Auckland, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Tel Aviv, and Wuhan.
Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, said in a statement: “We operated only 7.1 percent of our July 2019 pre-pandemic passenger capacity. We did see some improvements in demand … On 29 July, we carried 2,585 passengers, the most in a single day so far in 2021. Meanwhile, our passenger load factor of 28.5 percent was the highest it’s been over the past 12 months.”
Lam added that transit traffic from mainland China to the United States and Canada remained robust throughout July, while there was also increased demand for travel from mainland China to cities in Southeast Asia, particularly Jakarta and Hanoi. “We hope to be able to operate approximately 30 percent of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021. However, this is highly dependent upon operational and customer travel restrictions being relaxed. As governments around the world have said, this will only be possible when sufficiently high vaccination rates are achieved.”
The senior executive said that 99 percent of Cathay pilots and more than 91 percent of its cabin crew had already booked or received their vaccinations. He was proud to report that of the more than 75,000 Covid-19 tests performed on Hong Kong–based aircrew, none yielded a positive result for the virus.
Lam expects that student traffic to the United States this month and United Kingdom in September will give the airline’s business a slight boost in the next few weeks. “Flights on peak dates are already full, and flights on earlier departure dates are also likely to see increased bookings as demand continues to come in,” he said. “Nevertheless, we are still facing many challenges to both our passenger and our cargo business as the Covid-19 situation in different parts of the world continues to evolve.”