Cathay Pacific cargo tonnage witnesses positive recovery in February

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Cathay Pacific saw increased cargo tonnage in February due to a recovery in capacity with more expected in the coming weeks.

The airline carried 103,932 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 59.6% compared with February 2022, when capacity was hindered by crew quarantine restrictions.

February’s cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) increased 153.9% year on year, according to Cathay.

The cargo load factor decreased by 13.7 percentage points to 66.7%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), increased by 206.1% year on year.

In the first two months of 2023, tonnage increased by 42.8% against a 201.3% increase in capacity and a 147.4% increase in RFTKs, compared with the same period for 2022.

Chief customer and commercial officer Lavinia Lau said: “Looking at our cargo business, tonnage grew 9% in February compared to January, reflecting the gradual recovery in demand following the Lunar New Year holidays.

“Inbound demand from the Americas, Europe, Northeast Asia and Southwest Pacific remained steady, especially across our special solutions, such as Cathay Fresh and Cathay Pharma. Ad-hoc demand from Southeast Asia as well as South Asia, the Middle East and Africa (SAMEA) also helped fill the gaps left by demand from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland on long-haul routes.”

She added: “On the cargo side, demand from our home market, Hong Kong, as well as the Chinese Mainland is increasing, with e-commerce-related traffic picking up relatively more quickly. We are progressively expanding our network coverage as more of our passenger flights are resumed.”

The carrier aims to operate approximately 50% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity by the end of March.

“Turning to March and beyond, we are making good progress in increasing our capacity and rebuilding connectivity at the Hong Kong international aviation hub,” said Lau. “By the end of March, the Cathay Group will be operating approximately 50% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity, covering more than 70 destinations.”

Cathay Pacific saw its cargo revenues decline by double-digit percentage levels last year as Covid restrictions affected operations.

The airline reported a 16.6% fall in cargo revenues to HK$26.9bn in 2022 while cargo revenue tonne kms (CRTK) fell 29.8% year on year to 5.7bn and capacity was down 19% to 8.2bn cargo tonne km.

Cathay Pacific Cargo rebranded as Cathay Cargo in February, noted Lau.

She added: “Cathay Cargo notably also became the first airline – and Cathay Pacific Services Limited the first cargo terminal operator – to utilise the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) Logistics Park in Dongguan. This enables us to offer our customers seamless sea-air shipments from the Greater Bay Area (GBA) directly into HKIA for outbound airfreight.”