The Cathay Pacific Group expects to fly “under 50 per cent” of it’s pre-pandemic flight capacity in 2021, the airline group revealed in its latest combined traffic figures report.

“Among the multiple scenarios studied, this one is already the most optimistic that we can responsibly adopt at this moment,” said Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam regarding the 2021 forecast for the airline group.

“We assume we will be operating well below a quarter of pre-pandemic capacity in the first half of next year but will see a recovery in the second half of the year – only assuming the vaccines currently under development prove to be effective and are widely adopted in our key markets by summer 2021.”

The Group’s combined traffic figures for September 2020 show that it carried a total of 47,061 passengers last month, a decrease of 98.1 per cent compared to September 2019.

Lam noted that September was an “incredibly difficult summer” for the airline group.

“We continued to operate minimal capacity – just 9 per cent in September – a marginal month-on-month increase from about 8 per cent in August. This was despite the resumption of some services, notably Cebu and Perth. Daily passenger numbers remained low, averaging just 1,568, while load factor sat at about 25 per cent,” said Lam.

For the rest of 2020, the Hong Kong-based airline group will be operating approximately 10 per cent of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity.

The airline industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic due to border restrictions and low demand for air travel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said it does not anticipate passenger travel will return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024.

Earlier this year, Cathay Pacific secured a government bailout package, which formed the majority of the broader HK$39 billion (US$5 billion) recapitalisation plan outlined by the airline in June.

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