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Cathay defers Airbus deliveries amid capacity cuts

Cathay Pacific is delaying the delivery of four Airbus A320neo family aircraft originally set to join its subsidiaries HK Express and Cathay Dragon next year as it struggles with weakening demand amid continued unrest in the territory.

In an analyst briefing, the Oneworld carrier states that one A320neo meant for HK Express – its newly-acquired low-cost arm – and three A321neos destined for Cathay Dragon will be deferred.

HK Express was originally due to take four A320neos next year, and Cathay Dragon, six A321neos.

Cathay will also accelerate the retirement of one Boeing 777-300ER, which was scheduled for next year. It is also bringing forward the retirement of one of five Cathay Dragon A320ceos.

Taken together, this will leave Cathay and Cathay Dragon with six fewer aircraft for 2020.

The move comes a day after the airline warned of "significant pressure" on its overall passenger yield and second-half earnings in its October traffic figures.

Passenger load factor last month fell four points year-on-year to 77.6%, while Cathay and Cathay Dragon carried 7.1% fewer passengers year-on-year for the month.

The carrier will cut its November and December capacity by 6-7%. Services to Dublin and Medan have been suspended as a result.

It has also adjusted capacity to five long-haul points – including New York and Paris – and 10 medium and short-haul points, such as to Bangkok, Seoul Incheon, Beijing and Taipei.

Hong Kong’s ongoing unrest – already into its fifth month with no clear end in sight – has hit its airlines hard. Cathay has warned that the protests will also lead to a "small post-acquisition loss" for HK Express, which it took over in July.

Apart from Cathay, Hong Kong Airlines also has had to trim capacity, as it contends with its own financial troubles, coupled with weakening travel demand.

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