Thailand strife a drag on Cathay Pacific's June passenger volume

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 1:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 6:37pm

Traffic figures from Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair show passenger volumes grew 6.5 per cent in the first half of this year, with slower growth across markets recorded last month and a decline for Southeast Asia which the company blamed on political turmoil in Thailand.

Cathay yesterday released combined traffic figures with Dragonair for last month, showing a 5.1 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of passengers carried, compared to increases of more than 10 per cent in the two preceding months.

More than 2.6 million passengers were flown by the two airlines last month, with the passenger load factor - a measure of how full a plane is - rising by one percentage point to 85.9 per cent.

Traffic to South Korea and Japan in northeast Asia, which grew by more than 10 per cent since the beginning of the year, was particularly strong, said James Tong, Cathay's general manager for revenue management. But traffic to Southeast Asia declined 4.6 per cent from the same month last year. The figure has only grown by less than 1 per cent this year.

"[Demand] in Southeast Asia was affected by various factors including the political situation in Thailand," Tong said.

Cargo traffic, accounting for more than a quarter of the group's revenue, saw a mild recovery in demand from May continuing through June, pushing up the load factor to 64.9 per cent and tonnage to 140,444 tonnes, up 15 per cent year on year.

Tong said demand out of Hong Kong and the mainland, particularly on the transpacific lanes, was robust.

"Cargo demand has been weak in the past three years," said Paul Wan, the head of transport at brokerage firm CLSA.

"We are still in an oversupply cycle globally."

Cathay is due to release its yield figures in its interim report next month, the most important measurement of an airline's profitability determined by demand and supply. Cargo capacity in the first half rose 10.8 per cent and passenger capacity 5.3 per cent, while tonnage and passenger volume rose 8.6 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively.

Tong said the contribution of the premium economy cabin to the passenger business continued to grow, but "pressure on yield remains a concern in all classes."