‘Solid’ business travel helps Cathay Pacific counter May leisure travel decline

Cathay Pacific reported “solid” levels of business travel in May to counter a decline in leisure travel from Hong Hong.

The airline and sister carrier HK Express reached 80% of pre-pandemic passenger flights in the second quarter of the year and remain on track to reach full recovery within the first quarter of 2025 as more flights and destinations are added.

Cathay Pacific and HK Express together surpassed the 10 million mark for passengers carried in the first five months of the year, with a combined 11.2 million passengers carried during the period.

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Cathay Pacific carried a total almost 1.7 million passengers last month, up 18.4% over May 2023, although the load factor fell back by 4.8 percentage points to 80.3% as capacity increased. 

The number of carryings increased by 40.7% to a total of 8.8 million in the first five months of the year.

Chief customer and commercial officer Lavinia Lau said: “May was, as expected, a slightly quieter period for our travel business compared with previous months as demand slowed down, particularly on our regional routes. 

“Without any long-weekend holidays in Hong Kong, we experienced a 4% decrease in passenger numbers compared with April, when multiple holidays drove strong leisure demand. However, compared with the same month last year, passenger numbers were 18% higher.

“Although leisure traffic from Hong Kong declined, we saw increased demand from various countries in Southeast Asia due to the school holidays there. 

“Additionally, our long-haul services were boosted by the return of student traffic to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland from North America, resulting in 90% load factors on our United States and Canada routes. 

“Business travel demand continued to be solid, with strong sales in Hong Kong supporting traffic on a number of our Chinese mainland, North America and United Kingdom routes.”

She added: “Our passenger airlines now fly to more than 80 destinations around the world. This number will rise to 90 by next year as we continue to welcome even more destinations to our network, including Riyadh on 28 October 2024.”

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