Passenger numbers rose by more than 98 percent compared to the same period last year, though the figure was still a 97.2 percent decrease from pre-pandemic levels.
With no definitive timeline for when quarantine restrictions will be eased for global travelers coming into Hong Kong, the territory’s flag carrier continues to face an uphill battle in the months ahead. Cathay Pacific carried a total of 76,430 passengers in October, a sharp 58 percent drop compared to the 131,774 recorded in September and a significant decline from August’s figure.
Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, said in a statement: “October was more challenging for our passenger business than recent months. Demand for student travel, which had been robust over the past few months, tapered down quickly from early October. As such, we trimmed our passenger capacity by about 19 percent compared to September. Overall, we only managed to operate approximately 10 percent of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity compared to October 2019. Meanwhile, our average daily passenger numbers dropped about 44 percent versus the previous month to 2,465.”
Lam said that short-haul operations remained robust, with demand for regional flights serving Asian countries — particularly Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam — still “encouraging.” The outlook for November is somewhat more optimistic given the increase in flight bookings for Australia-bound travelers. This was driven by the reopening of the nation’s borders for vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members. Cathay has already added capacity on two major routes: the airline now operates 10 weekly flights between Hong Kong and Sydney and flies nine times a week to Melbourne.
However, Cathay Pacific’s recovery is still hampered by “considerable uncertainty” in its current operating environment. Lam added, “Travel and operational restrictions continue to greatly impact our ability to mount flights and 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.”