Cathay Pacific Airways hit a milestone in April with 1.03 million passengers - the first time it moved more than a million people in a single month. During the first four months of the year the airline carried 3.81 million passengers, up 9.3 per cent on the period last year. With the Asian recovery in full swing, Cathay last month announced a HK$12 billion fleet expansion plan giving it 77 wide-body aircraft by September next year, from 65 at present. April saw 80.71 per cent of its seats full, and 75.67 per cent in the four months to April 30, compared with 68.04 per cent a year earlier. Cathay breaks even with a passenger-load factor of about 62 per cent, according to analysts. Its cargo operations also performed well in April, adding 63,242 tonnes - bringing the year-to-date total to 234,861 tonnes - up 12.4 per cent on last year. However, its European cargo business is facing fresh competition from affiliate Dragonair, which is planning to launch a European service using a dedicated Boeing 747 freighter. While Dragonair's cargo operations are still tiny compared with Cathay's, its growth has outpaced its former parent. As the only Hong Kong-based airline with access to the mainland market, it stands to gain significantly from the mainland's accession to the World Trade Organisation. Dragonair's cargo operations continued their record-breaking run in April, with a jump of 7,155 tonnes, a double-digit rise on the same month last year. Meanwhile, British Airways recorded its highest growth in passenger loadings in the Far East and Australasia during the two months to last month. The passenger-load factor in the region exceeded 72.6 per cent during the period, up 3.3 per cent on a year earlier. It carried 370,000 passengers in the Far East and Australasia in the two months to the end of last month, up 6 per cent from last year.