Swire Group

Cathay posts record festive passenger traffic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2012, 12:00am

Cathay Pacific Airways saw record daily passenger volumes last week as holidaymakers travelled during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Passenger numbers reached 970,000 on Saturday when most holidaymakers returned to Hong Kong last week, following previous peaks of 940,000 and 930,000 per day last week.

The airline normally carries about 800,000 passengers daily.

To meet the increased passenger traffic, Cathay added 101 flights last week. During the Christmas holiday, Cathay launched 55 additional flights to meet the demand.

Cathay's chief operating officer Ivan Chu said the sharp rise in passenger traffic had placed frontline staff under immense pressure.

Indeed, the heavier passenger traffic had led to more flight delays and service disruptions in the past two months.

For instance, a Hong Kong-bound flight from London with 197 passengers on board on December 23 was diverted to Moscow after smoke was reported in the cabin.

Several recent incidents, which disrupted services and caused delays, have brought Cathay's safety standards into question. On January 23, a Singapore-bound flight returned to Hong Kong after the pilot found a crack in the cockpit window. Cathay later said the crack did not compromise the flight's safety.

Chu said the incidents were isolated and that passengers' safety was always at the top of the airline's priorities.

He said the airline would take greater care to maintain and identify problems of its fleet.

Cathay has ordered more than 90 new aircraft with a total listed value of HK$190 billion. The airline expects to take delivery of all the planes by 2019, and it will phase out its entire fleet of Boeing 747s by 2017.

Chu was speaking yesterday at the re-opening of the carrier's newly renovated business lounge at Hong Kong International Airport.

Cathay has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its business lounge to provide more room for the increasing number of business-class passengers. The renovation of its first-class lounge will start in March and be completed by year end.