Cathay Pacific is to cut 12 flights a day until the end of February to avoid cancellations during the upcoming Lunar New Year period, as the airline acknowledges its operations had been “stretched” in recent weeks. 

The Hong Kong-based carrier says it will focus on “routes with multiple daily frequencies where possible” in slashing the number of flights. 


Source: Alfred Chua/FlightGlobal

Cathay Pacific will cut about 12 flights a day through end-February.

The announcement follows weeks of operational disruptions across its network, which saw “a small number of cancellations”. 

The airline cancelled 28 flights on New Year’s Day, on top of at least 40 other flights across the Christmas holidays. 

Cathay said a “higher than expected” pilot absence – from “seasonal illness” – had led to the flight cancellations, but media reports, citing the pilot’s union, suggest it stemmed from staff shortages as the airline ramps up flying. 

Cathay slashed its workforce during the pandemic, as it struggled to stay afloat amid prolonged border closures in Hong Kong. 

In its latest statement Cathay says it has “learned from this experience and, in addition to the short-term measures described, will make the necessary changes to ensure future operational stability”.

It adds: “[Cathay] has reviewed its flight schedule and increased pilot standby levels to enhance the resilience of its operation.” 

The move comes weeks before the start of the Lunar New Year period in mid-February, traditionally a peak travel period in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Cathay stresses its flights “will operate normally” during this period. 

Cathay’s operating capacity were at around 70% as at end-2023, according to the airline’s traffic results. It hopes to fully recover its operating capacity to pre-pandemic levels by this year.