HONG KONG, 22 November 2022: Following the Hong Kong SAR Government’s lifting of quarantine requirements for arrivals entering Hong Kong at the end of September, travel sentiment out of Hong Kong improved significantly in October, according to Cathay Pacific’s traffic figures for October 2022.
The airline’s chief customer and commercial officer, Ronald Lam said: “Demand for the first half of October mainly stemmed from flights to Bangkok, Singapore and Seoul. We then saw a surge in demand for travel to Japan when its quarantine requirements for arrivals were relaxed on 11 October.
Looking ahead at the remainder of 2022, Lam noted that the airline group has already announced the addition of about 3,000 passenger flight sectors from October until the end of December this year and is on track to achieve its target of operating up to one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels by the end of 2022. Travel demand for the rest of 2022 continues to improve and is promising for the Christmas holiday season.
Cathay Pacific released its traffic figures for October 2022 at the end of last week. The airline carried 400,909 passengers last month, an increase of 424.5% compared with October 2021 but an 85.4% decrease compared with the pre-pandemic level in October 2019. The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased 416.6% year-on-year but were down 80.1% versus October 2019. Passenger load factor increased by 44 percentage points to 73.6%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 108% year-on-year but decreased by 79% compared with October 2019 levels. In the first 10 months of 2022, passengers carried increased by 166% against a 20.4% increase in capacity and a 167.8% increase in RPKs, compared with the same period for 2021.
Lam noted that demand during the first half of October was driven mainly by flights to Bangkok, Singapore and Seoul, followed by a surge in demand for travel to Japan when its quarantine requirements for arrivals relaxed on 11 October.
“We increased our regional flight frequencies, particularly to Japan destinations, in October. Last month, we also resumed services to Madrid, Milan, Bengaluru, Dubai and Kathmandu. More destinations and increased flight frequencies meant more choices and better connectivity for our customers at the Hong Kong aviation hub.
“Overall, in October, passenger flight capacity increased 32% compared with September, and we operated 21% of our pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels. Passenger numbers increased to nearly 13,000 per day, up from over 8,800 in September, and the load factor reached about 74%.
“Earlier this year, we said that we were targeting to be operating cash generative from August onwards. Since then, Hong Kong has made further adjustments to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. As such, our expectation is that the second half of 2022 will be operating cash generative overall.
“At the same time, our second-half 2022 results for our airlines and subsidiaries are expected to see a marked improvement over our first-half 2022 results, although still a loss overall for the full year of 2022. “
Looking further ahead, Lam said: “Earlier this week, the group – comprising passenger airlines Cathay Pacific and HK Express – announced that it anticipates it will be operating around 70% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity by the end of 2023, to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024, ahead of the Asia-Pacific traffic forecast issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).”