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Cathay says August protests to dent revenue

Cathay Pacific has warned that its August revenue figures could take a hit, thanks to ongoing anti-government protests that culminated in two consecutive airport closures.

Cathay’s newly-minted chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam notes that even though “recent events” did not “substantially impact” the business in July, the airline is bracing for the effects in the coming month.

“However, we anticipate a much more significant impact to our revenue in August and onwards,” says Lam in a media release on the carrier’s July traffic figures.

He adds that traffic into Hong Kong for the month has softened, and that the carrier has noticed that traffic out of the city, particularly to points in its short-haul network of China, Taiwan, South-east Asia and South Korea, is gradually weakening as well.

For July, Cathay and Cathay Dragon carried around 3.3 million passengers, a 4% increase from the same time last year. Passenger load factor came in at 86.1%, a 0.6 percentage point decrease, while ASKs rose by 7.2%.

Anti-government protests have taken place in Hong Kong since June, sparked by the government’s decision to introduce an unpopular extradition bill. It was later shelved but protesters have demanded the full withdrawal of the bill and an investigation into the way the political crisis has been handled.

On 12 and 13 August, Hong Kong International Airport was shut down completely, after protestors occupied large sections of the airport. All flights had to be cancelled, and Cathay, together with its subsidiaries Cathay Dragon and HK Express, bore the brunt of flight cancellations.

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