Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will cut flights by 96 per cent in April and May amid a “severe drop in demand” due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the growing number of travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world.

The airlines said their ability to maintain even this “skeleton schedule” will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world, which they expect will further dampen passenger demand.

Cathay Pacific will operate three flights per week to the following 12 destinations: London (Heathrow), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo (Narita), Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney.

Cathay Dragon will operate three flights per week to the following three destinations: Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong), and Kuala Lumpur.

Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented. We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically.”

The carriers said they are waiving rebooking, rerouting and cancellation fees for affected passengers. 

Airlines around the world have drastically cut capacity in an effort to reduce costs in response to the surge in coronavirus cases worldwide, which has led to a drop in demand for air travel. Analysis by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the coronavirus could cost the global airline industry up to $113 billion.

An increasing number of countries and regions are now closing their borders in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected over 200,000 people and led to more than 8,000 deaths worldwide. Australian carriers Qantas and Virgin Australia announced this week that they would be suspending all international services after the Australian government asked its citizens not to travel overseas.

Cathay Pacific’s  wholly-owned subsidiary HK Express announced today that it would suspend all flight operations until April 30 due to a decline in air travel demand.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier said earlier this month it expects “substantial” losses in the first half of 2020 and will cut more flights as the Covid-19 outbreak hits demand for air travel worldwide.

Cathay Pacific warns of ‘substantial loss’ in first half of 2020