Cathay Pacific carried an average of 981 passengers each day in January, with nearly nine in ten seats going empty. It is the first time in seven months that the number has dropped below 1,000.

New Covid-19 strains and further lockdowns across Cathay Pacific’s key markets, including the UK, have led to passenger load factor falling to a new low of 13.3 per cent.

Overall, the Hong Kong flag carrier handled 30,410 passengers, a decrease of 99 per cent compared to the same period a year before. Meanwhile, seat capacity declined by 91.8 per cent. 

Demand remains “very weak”, apart from a handful of intra-Asia routes, according to the airline.

Ronald Lam, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer at Cathay Pacific, commented:

“Many of the challenges of 2020 continued into January while a number of new ones have also emerged, most notably new Covid-19 strains and more severe lockdowns in some of our key markets.

“As long as stringent quarantine measures continue to be in place in Hong Kong and elsewhere, the coming months will be extremely challenging. Our ability to adapt quickly will be key to our business and we will remain agile in adjusting our network plan in accordance with market demand.”

Earlier this month, Cathay Pacific announced it would operate flights to just 16 destinations worldwide as Hong Kong’s two-week quarantine rule for pilots and cabin crew takes effect. The carrier also said its cash burn is predicted to reach as much as US$245 million per month.