The weak Japanese yen underpinned double digit growth in passenger traffic to Japan, Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday, adding that it would increase non-scheduled flights to meet the rise in demand.
The year-on-year traffic growth to Japan came from the Hong Kong market and from transiting passengers from Southeast Asia, Ivan Chu Kwok-leung, Cathay’s chief operating officer said on the sidelines of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
However, traffic from China to Japan was still under pressure as a result of Sino-Japanese tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea, Chu said.
Chu said the airline had seen an uptick on traffic long-haul destinations, especially on the routes to the United States and Canada, where it rose by two per cent year-on-year.
“We are restoring flights to Los Angeles and New York, to the extent that traffic has returned to the level before we cut long-haul capacity last year,” he said.
From July, the carrier will operate 21 flights a week to Los Angeles, up from 17 flights a week, and will boost its New York service to 28 flights a week, from 25 at present, he said. Additionally, Cathay will add a fifth daily flight to London from June 25.
This year, Cathay will take delivery of nine Boeing 777s and five Airbus 330s to replace older B 747s.
He said the freight division was weak this year. After a brief uptick in the fourth quarter of last year, the carrier recorded a 12 per cent year-on-year dip in cargo volume in March. Chu said the airline hoped that shipments of new electronic devices in the second half would help underpin the cargo business.
In March, Cathay Pacific reported an 83 per cent dive in profit in 2012 to HK$916 million, blaming falling fares and weak cargo demand.
Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said March international passenger demand rose six per cent year-on-year, and capacity was up 3.5 per cent, lifting load factors by 1.8 percentage points to 79.9 per cent.
IATA, the umbrella group for airlines, said Asia-Pacific carriers’ traffic rose 5.4 per cent year-on-year in March, with strong growth in the Chinese market and an improvement in Asia trade since the last year fourth quarter underpinning the higher demand.
It said half of the growth in international traffic since October had been with Asia-Pacific carriers.