Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have flagged challenges in a weakening cargo market, even as passenger traffic continues to climb on the back of strong demand recovery.

In separate traffic results, both carriers reported a drop in cargo loads for April, with Cathay attributing a 10% month-on-month drop in overall tonnage to the holiday period during the month, while SIA blamed weaker demand for an 11% decline in cargo traffic.

Cathay 747-8F

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Cathay Pacific 747-8F in Sydney in 2018

Cathay’s chief customer and commercial officer Lavinia Lau says the airline expects demand to improve in May, pointing out one area of “positive momentum” was e-commerce demand from Hong Kong and Mainland China.

She adds: “We are continuing to adjust our freighter network to reflect any significant changes in trade flows and business opportunities.

On the passenger side, Cathay carried close to 1.4 million passengers in April, a significant improvement compared to the low base in the year ago, when Hong Kong’s borders were shut.

Lau says April was “busy” for the airline on the passenger business, given that it coincided with the Easter weekend holidays, as well as the lead-up to the week-long Labour Day holidays in early May.

“We continued to increase our passenger flight capacity and add more frequencies to destinations in Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and Japan. Demand for premium class seats has also been positive, driven by both corporate and leisure travel,” says Lau.

SIA and its low-cost unit Scoot, meanwhile, carried close to 2.7 million passengers, up 85% year on year. Traffic grew 66%, while capacity was up 37%.

The airline notes there was “robust leisure demand” during the Easter holidays in April, led by traffic to and from east Asia, which includes South Korea, Japan and China.