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Cathay to operate at no more than 50% capacity in 2021

written by Hannah Dowling | October 20, 2020

Part of the Cathay Pacific fleet grounded at Hong Kong Airport in March 2020 (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE via Getty Images)

Cathay Pacific has said it expects to operate at less than 50 per cent of its pre-COVID passenger flight capacity in 2021, as it continues to navigate the pandemic-induced crisis.

In a release to the stock exchange, Cathay said it planned to operate at around just 10 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity for the remainder of 2020 as international borders remain closed or otherwise restricted.

Ronald Lam Siu-por, the group’s chief customer and commercial officer, said the carrier’s 2021 outlook was “already the most optimistic that we can responsibly adopt at this moment”.

The airline said it expected to be operating well below 25 per cent of its 2019 capacity in the first half of 2021, however has assumed the wide adoption of an effective COVID-19 vaccine by mid-2021, which would improve market conditions.

In September, the airline’s passenger numbers were down 98.1 per cent compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6 per cent.

Analysts have previously said that airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are going to take a harder hit during the pandemic than most, as they have no domestic network to rely upon for revenue.

The airline currently has around 40 per cent of its fleet in off-shore storage facilities.


Cathay Pacific is also currently nearing the completion of a strategic review that is likely to result in mass job losses. 

It announced the review in June, and said “tough decisions” would be made and revealed during the fourth quarter.

The South China Morning Post reported on Monday that the Cathay board was expected to back a restructuring plan this week, set to include staff redundancies and pay cuts.

Employees are due to learn of their fate before the week is out.


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