Cathay Pacific said its cargo throughput in March dropped nearly 50% compared to 2019 levels due to capacity reductions in response to Covid quarantine requirements.
The airline has released its traffic figures for March 2022, reporting that it carried 97,166 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 16.6% compared to March 2021, but a 47.5% decrease compared with the same period in 2019.
March’s cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) decreased 28.4% year-on-year, and were down 65.6% compared to March 2019. The cargo load factor decreased by 4.9 percentage points to 81.5%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), was down by 24.1% year-on-year, and was down by 71.1% versus March 2019.
In the first three months of 2022, the tonnage decreased by 13.8% against a 49.2% drop in capacity and a 50.3% decrease in RFTKs, as compared to the same period for 2021.
Chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “For cargo, our capacity on long-haul routes remained constrained by ongoing aircrew quarantine requirements; however, we were very pleased to have brought Atlanta, Houston and Miami back on line. With reduced long-haul operations, we have used the available aircraft and crew to add capacity to our regional lanes, in particular Northeast Asia and South Asia, where demand has been relatively robust. Overall, our cargo flight capacity has recovered over 40% compared to the lowest point in January, although it remains just 29% of pre-COVID-19 levels.
“On the demand side, tonnage contribution from Hong Kong reduced in March, as cross-border trucking capacity remained constrained, and production in the southern part of the Chinese Mainland was affected due to ongoing anti-pandemic measures.
“Nevertheless, strong transhipment from other markets filled some of this gap, resulting in 49% tonnage growth compared to the previous month. The regional movement of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) shipments and other medical supplies continued to be active throughout the month.
Speaking about the outlook for the company, Lam added that it “will be operating a similar level of capacity in April as in March due to ongoing operational constraints” but it “will resume limited freighter flights to Europe with Frankfurt coming back on line from mid-April”.
He stated: “Regionally, we expect exports from Shanghai to be significantly reduced in light of the COVID-19 situation there. On the positive side, demand from Hong Kong should slowly recover as cross-border trucking bottlenecks ease, while the feed from other parts of our network remains healthy.”