Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways and subsidiary Cathay Dragon continue to see passenger numbers slide in October as anti-government protests go into its 23rd week, with demonstrations becoming increasingly violent.

Inbound passenger traffic fell 35% year-over-year (YOY), and outbound from Hong Kong dropped 13% YOY.

Despite reducing capacity 2%-4% between August and October, load factors for October fell 4 points to 77.6%, and cumulatively by 1.9 points to 82.3% since the start of the year.

The oneworld member is looking to slash capacity 6%-7% in November and December.

Passenger growth, measured in RPKs, decreased 2.7% YOY in October, most significantly from Mainland China by 21.9% YOY because of anti-Chinese sentiments from locals. Capacity fell 8.7% for October and is the only market with capacity cut in all of Cathay’s network since January.

Transit traffic remained stable and was boosted by the Rugby World Cup 2019 to Japan, especially traffic from England and South Africa prior to the finals.

Demand for premium class was “sluggish,” and saw a double-digital decline, although usually a peak season for business travel.  

Cargo volume improved, although still down 4.9% in terms of total freight carried and -5.9% in cargo revenue growth (RFTK). Cathay saw an uptick in flow of raw materials and machinery in the start of the month, followed by exports from China and Hong Kong to transpacific and European markets.

With short-term outlook remaining “challenging and uncertain,” Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam continued to echo his early prediction of poorer 2H results.

Protests escalated the week of Nov. 11, following the death of a student and an incident of a police officer shooting and critically injuring another protestor.

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) announced Nov. 13 the cancellation of its annual assembly of presidents scheduled to convene in the city Nov.  21-22, citing “the unpredictability of the situation in Hong Kong.”

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com