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Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

Cathay Pacific passenger arrivals to Hong Kong down 46 per cent year on year amid intense anti-government protests in November

Airline reports a fourth consecutive monthly decline in passengers carried globally
But shortfall in inbound advance bookings has been partially offset by improvement in transit passenger traffic
The number of passengers coming to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific fell by nearly half year on year in November as intense anti-government protests roiled the city, the airline revealed on Tuesday.

The airline also reported a fourth consecutive monthly decline in passengers carried globally, down 9 per cent to 2.62 million customers, with planes full 80.1 per cent on average, down 3.2 percentage points.

Ronald Lam Siu-por, Cathay Pacific’s chief customer and commercial officer, said November was “very challenging” for the airline, and travel sentiments were “still weak”.

“Overall, our expectation is that the rest of 2019 will remain incredibly challenging,” Lam said.

“We continue to see a significant shortfall in inbound advance bookings for Hong Kong, particularly from mainland China and other regional markets, as compared to the same period last year. This shortfall has been partially offset by the improvement in transit passenger traffic,” he added.

Hong Kong’s flagship airline earlier said its profit expectations in the second half of 2019 would be “significantly” less than that of the first half.

Cathay’s year-on-year inbound traffic shrank 46 per cent in November, which was followed by a 35 per cent shrinkage in October. In August and September, the year-on-year contraction of inbound traffic was 38 per cent.

The airline's pivot to transit traffic – which makes up almost half of its passenger mix – to shore up its business appears to be working.

Hong Kong International Airport said on Sunday it handled 5.02 million passengers in November this year, some 969,000 fewer than November last year.

Rival carrier Hong Kong Airlines also continues to struggle amid grim financial challenges.

Cathay’s outbound traffic from Hong Kong fell by 8 per cent in November, which was only a slight improvement from that of October, the company said.

Mainland China continued to be a major problem for Cathay in the wake of the citywide protests and the punishment from the mainland’s aviation regulator on safety grounds. Cathay’s employees who supported the protests were not allowed to work on mainland-bound flights. The airline’s management has also been overhauled.

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