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Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific passengers fall 3.8 per cent as Typhoon Nida cuts 300 flights

Weakness persisted in the carrier’s main markets – Hong Kong, China and the US – while European routes saw revenue decline due to security concerns

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 5:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 10:39pm

Cathay Pacific Airways saw passenger numbers decline in August, as its key markets like Hong Kong, China and the US remained weak and Typhoon Nida forced the cancellation of 300 flights.

Cathay and its subsidiary Hong Kong Dragon Airlines (Dragonair) carried a total of 2.98 million passengers last month, down 3.8 per cent year-on-year, with passenger load factor, a measure of utility, falling by 1.8 percentage points to 86.8 per cent, according to a note to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Cargo demand in August was comparatively robust; the two airlines carried 153,733 tonnes of cargo and mail, up 3.8 per cent from a year earlier.

In the first eight months of this year, the number of passengers carried rose 1.8 per cent from the same period a year earlier, compared with a 3.4 per cent increase in capacity.

“August was a busy month for our passenger business and we saw high passenger loads across the network. However, the disruption caused by Typhoon Nida, which passed close by Hong Kong in early August, led to nearly 300 flights being cancelled,” said Patricia Hwang, Cathay’s general manager revenue management.

The disruption caused by Typhoon Nida, which passed close by Hong Kong in early August, led to nearly 300 flights being cancelled
Patricia Hwang, Cathay Pacific

The airline’s main markets – Hong Kong, the mainland and the US – continued to show signs of weakness, while European routes saw revenue decline due to security concerns, she said.

Hwang said Cathay’s passenger yield, a measure of profitability, remains under “intense pressure” due to volatile currency markets and strong competition.

In August, several Chinese airlines reported positive operating data.

China Eastern Airlines said it carried approximately 9.71 million passengers last month, up 5.9 per cent from a year earlier, as robust domestic and long-haul routes offset a slide in regional routes, namely those to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

China Southern Airlines Company saw passenger traffic rise 4.07 per cent year-on-year to 9.57 million, although passengers on regional routes fell 14.25 per cent from a year earlier to 201,410.

Cathay reported an 82 per cent slump in first-half net profit, the result of lower demand for corporate travel and a hedging loss from its wrong-way bet on fuel prices.

The passenger yield, a measure of the average fare paid per kilometre flown by each passenger, plunged 10.1 per cent in the first half.

Chairman John Slosar said in an interim results briefing last month that Cathay’s performance in the second half will continue to be constrained by fewer tourist arrivals, cut backs in corporate travel and competition from mainland rivals.

The carrier’s shares price has dropped 13.2 per cent since it revealed its interim results on August 17, ending flat at HK$11.16 on Thursday.

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