Cathay Pacific has released its latest traffic figures, showing a 99.3 per cent drop in passenger numbers during April 2021, compared to pre-pandemic levels of April 2019.

The airline carried just 22,404 passengers across the whole of last month, equating to just under 747 passengers per day.

Cathay said that the figures “continued to reflect the airline’s substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place in Hong Kong and other markets amid the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic”.

Cathay Pacific group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said that the airline had operated 21 per cent more capacity in April 2021 than during the previous month, including the resumption of regular services to Chengdu, Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Melbourne and Perth, but warned that “The pace of recovery continues to be slow”.

“In the first half of April, we added more flights to cater for demand from student travellers heading to London,” said Lam. “We also successfully operated two special flights that departed from London on 21 and 28 April to bring Hong Kong residents home. We are very proud that these marked our first flights operated by fully vaccinated pilots and cabin crew, and also our first flights from London since December last year.

“Furthermore, with the ban on flights to Hong Kong from the UK having been lifted earlier this month, we are pleased to now be operating regular flights from London Heathrow again.

“We were also encouraged to see more demand towards the end of April for traffic from the Chinese mainland under the Hong Kong SAR Government’s expanded Return2HK scheme, and we will be resuming flights to Fuzhou and Hangzhou at the end of May.

“However, travel restrictions continue to impact our passenger business, as was the case with the temporary suspension of all flights from the Philippines to Hong Kong by the Hong Kong SAR Government in mid-April.”

The carrier had planned to launch quarantine-free flights between Hong Kong and Singapore from May 26, under a travel bubble agreed between the two destinations. But this has now been delayed again, due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in Singapore.

Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble postponed again

Lam said that “While we are disappointed with the postponement of the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble flights, we are nevertheless very encouraged by the demand for two-way, all-purpose, quarantine-free air travel flight arrangements among our customers”.