The industry expects an increase in yields and travellers in coming months Cathay Pacific Airways is on the right track for recovery as its year-on-year drop in passenger traffic continued to narrow last month. Hong Kong's No1 carrier saw passenger numbers last month fall 5.3 per cent to 1.08 million, compared with a 21 per cent drop in July. Revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) - the distance flown by paying passengers - dropped 2.6 per cent to 4.48 billion, while capacity, represented by available seat kilometres, fell 6.3 per cent to 5.26 billion. Passenger load factor, the percentage of occupied seats, was up 3.2 percentage points to 85.3 per cent. Although the carrier attracted more passengers during the summer, yield remained low due to heavy discounts, said Ian Shiu, Cathay general manager for revenue management, sales and distribution. 'While load factors are good, yield was still dampened in August as many passengers continued to travel on heavily discounted tickets. Indications are that yield will improve in September as special promotions tail off and front-end demand picks up,' he said. Cargo volume last month decreased 5.1 per cent to 70,452 tonnes. Cargo tonne kilometres dropped 2.8 per cent to 431 million. Airlines worldwide are also emerging from the overhang of Sars, with statistics from the International Air Transport Association (Iata) showing an improvement in traffic in July. International passenger traffic fell 3.6 per cent in July, according to figures released yesterday. Airlines carried 20 per cent fewer passengers in May, the peak of the Sars outbreak, but the number improved to 12 per cent in June. Iata's director general Giovanni Bisignani said part of the loss in the first half could be made up by improving traffic in the coming months. 'July figures confirm that traffic is well on its way to recovery. Although we are still below last year's level, the improvement is impressive enough to suggest that we will end the year 2 per cent down on 2002 levels,' Mr Bisignani said. Overall passenger traffic for the first seven months was down a comparative 6.5 per cent. The Asia-Pacific region remained the most affected area, with RPK dropping 15.5 per cent year on year in the first seven months, followed by North America with a 10.6 per cent fall in RPK.