Cathay Pacific lowers Q4 capacity forecast as travel restrictions linger

CNA – Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways said yesterday that it had lowered its passenger capacity forecast for the remainder of the year to 13 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels, down from an earlier 30 per cent target for the fourth quarter as travel restrictions linger.

The airline said it continued to target cash burn of less than HKD1 billion (USD130 million) a month for the rest of the year.

Hong Kong lacks a domestic aviation market and has some of the world’s toughest pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The city requires fully vaccinated travellers from destinations considered “high-risk”, including the United States (US) and Britain, to spend three weeks in hotel quarantine.

Cathay last month said that its target of reaching 30 per cent of pre-COVID-19 passenger capacity in the fourth quarter hinged on quarantine rules for passengers and crew being relaxed.

The airline said it continued to target cash burn of less than HKD1 billion (USD130 million) a month for the rest of the year. PHOTO: AFP

Passenger numbers in August were better than in previous months because of strong student traffic from China to the US and Britain, but were 95.3 per cent below the same month in 2019, the airline said. Cathay said the cargo market strengthened in August, with freighter demand ramping up to peak season levels.

Air cargo accounted for 80 per cent of the airline’s revenue in the first half of the year due to the pandemic-related hit to passenger demand. Cathay separately said yesterday that it had committed to using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for 10 per cent of its fuel consumption by 2030 as part of its broader commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Delta Air Lines and British Airways owner IAG set the same 2030 SAF targets earlier this year.

Doing so would require a major ramp-up in production as SAF accounts for less than 0.1 per cent of jet fuel at present, according to airlines group IATA.

Cathay said that a deal with Fulcrum BioEnergy would give it access to some SAF for flights departing the US from 2024.