Cathay Pacific and its regional wing Cathay Dragon carried a total of 13,729 passengers last month, a decrease of 99.6 per cent compared to April 2019, and an average of fewer than 500 passengers a day.

The Cathay Pacific Group operated flights to only 14 destinations in April. In a statement posted on its website, the Hong Kong-based group said traffic figures for April 2020 reflect the airlines’ 97 per cent capacity cuts in response to “significantly reduced demand” as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Hong Kong and “other markets”.

Hong Kong extended its travel ban on non-Hong Kong residents on April 7 and said it would continue to keep quarantine measures in place, as well as its suspension of all transit flights “until further notice”.

“The ban on transit traffic through Hong Kong together with minimal demand for outbound travel meant that the majority of our very limited traffic came from inbound travellers, notably from North America and the UK,” said Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.

The group has reported an unaudited net loss of HK$4.5 billion ($580 million) as both airlines operated a drastically reduced schedule.

“The financial outlook continues to be very bleak for the coming few months at least,” said Lam.

Lam said he expects that daily passenger numbers will remain at 500 in May, and that business and leisure travel will remain “severely impacted” for the foreseeable future.

“Overall, we do not anticipate we will see a meaningful recovery for an extended period,” said Lam.

International travel demand will only return to pre-Covid-19 levels “in a few years”, Lam noted.

“As Hong Kong’s home carriers, we do not have the benefit of a domestic passenger network as a buffer. We already announced that we will continue to operate a minimal schedule over the next two months,” he added.

Cathay Pacific is planning to operate a slightly increased passenger flight capacity from 3 per cent in May to 5 per cent in June, but Lam said these flights “are still subject to a potential relaxation in government health measures”.