Cathay Pacific Airways today released figures for the month of May 2003 that show the full impact of the atypical pneumonia outbreak on the airline`s passenger traffic.
In May 2003, Cathay Pacific carried 243,976 passengers, down 74.9 per cent on the same month last year. The average number of passengers carried each day was approximately 7,800. By comparison, the airline carried a total of 915,741 passengers in March this year.
The passenger schedule was reduced by 45 per cent in May. Though it worked hard to maintain schedule integrity, the airline was forced to reduce flight frequencies to most destinations because of a sharp drop in passenger numbers. A total of 22 aircraft were temporarily parked by the end of the month.
Cargo traffic dampened a little in May, though the airline maintained its full freighter schedule throughout the month. A total of 64,401 tonnes of cargo was carried, down 9.6 per cent on the same month last year. The month`s cargo load factor was 76.1 per cent, up 6.1 percentage points from May 2002.
Cathay Pacific General Manager Revenue Management, Sales and Distribution Ian Shiu said: “The drop in passenger numbers we saw in April sharpened further in May. Forward bookings have shown some improvement since the World Health Organisation lifted its travel advisory for Hong Kong at the end of May. We are restoring around 170 flights a week by July in anticipation of increased demand over summer and to support government and travel industry initiatives to draw travellers back to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, front-end demand remains weak and yields are very low. We are still a long way from our break-even point.”
Cathay Pacific General Manager Cargo Kenny Tang said: “We saw some drop-off in cargo demand in May. The slight reduction in cargo capacity in the belly holds of passenger aircraft was offset by an additional freighter service, which was mounted following the return of our last parked B747-200 freighter to the fleet. The increase in capacity due to passenger services being restored will leave us well equipped to cope with demand in the coming months.”