Cathay Pacific has extended its deep capacity cuts for another month, reducing capacity by 96% for April and May, operating a “bare skeleton” passenger flight schedule of just 15 cities.
With the latest cuts, Cathay will fly three-times-weekly to 12 points in its network to cities such as Singapore, London Heathrow, Bangkok, Vancouver, as well as Sydney. Subsidiary Cathay Dragon will operate thrice-weekly flights to three points: Beijing, Shanghai Pudong and Kuala Lumpur.
Still, the carrier warned that the cuts could go further, depending on government-imposed travel restrictions that have in recent days been growing.
As with other regional carriers, Cathay’s slashing of capacity is in response to weakened travel demand from the coronavirus outbreak, as well as a growing list of government travel restrictions.
The carrier states: “Our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world which will further dampen passenger demand.”
Cathay chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam adds: “We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically.”
The carrier previously warned in its February traffic results that capacity cuts could extend into May, if travel restrictions were not relaxed by then. It earlier announced that April will see 90% of capacity cut from the passenger network.
On the cargo front, Lam says the airline is ramping up capacity by mounting charter services. Cathay will also operate suspended passenger services as freight-only flights, to meet customer demand. Its cargo schedules for April and May remain intact.
Cathay has warned of a substantial loss for the first half of the year, as it was hit by the double-whammy of political unrest and the coronavirus outbreak.
In its February traffic results, it stated that it was made an unaudited loss of more than HK$2 billion ($257 million) for the month.
HK EXPRESS SUSPENDS OPERATIONS
Separately, Cathay low-cost unit HK Express announced that it will suspend all operations until end-April, citing a drop in demand and growing travel restrictions.
The carrier, which flies to 25 cities in the region, states it was looking to resume flights in May, but will monitor the situation closely.
It states: “HK Express has already taken a number of measures to help it preserve cash, including cost containment, recruitment suspension, supplier management and the implementation of the special no pay leave scheme to mitigate the financial impact of the situation on the company.”
HK Express chief Mandy Ng adds: “It is now essential in order to ensure we see ourselves through this extremely difficult period. Given all the challenges we have been facing, preserving our cash position is key to make sure we stay together as team.”