Almost one in three seats on the Cathay Pacific network flew empty last month and the airline flew 12 per cent fewer passengers than at the same time last year. Transpacific routes were the worst hit, falling almost 18 per cent in revenue passenger kilometres - a measure of traffic - compared with September last year. Passenger traffic to Europe was down 15 per cent, and there were also significant reductions in traffic to Asian destinations. The airline's general manager for network revenue, Ian Shiu, predicted market conditions would remain challenging for the foreseeable future. 'The significant decline in passengers and cargo can be attributed to the general economic slowdown and the impact of the tragic events of September 11,' he said. Analysts said the proportion of available seats sold - the load factor - of 68.4 per cent was comparable to Asian financial crisis levels. 'Not very good are they?' said analyst Robert Sassoon, of SG Securities, commenting on the September statistics, but added that they were in line with market expectations. 'I wouldn't have been surprised by these figures at all - the October figures will be even more revealing,' he said. Mr Sassoon predicted Cathay would make a loss for the second half of this year despite its efforts to cut flight frequency and costs. Head of Hong Kong research for Credit Suisse First Boston Peter Hilton also predicted a loss. Neither analyst thought the Cathay Pacific pilots' ongoing dispute had contributed significantly to the results for September. Cathay has denied a media report that bonuses will be cut this year, saying no decision has been made.