Cathay Pacific has released its latest traffic figures, as well as reporting a net loss of just under US$1 billion for the first half of 2021.

The airline carried just 54,092 passengers last month, down 98.4 per cent on pre-pandemic levels of July 2019. Capacity was down 92.9 per cent on July 2019, and average load factors were just 28.5 per cent.

The carrier blamed the figures on “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”.

Striking a positive note, chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said that transit traffic from the Chinese Mainland to the US and Canada had “remained robust”, adding that “we captured a few pockets of demand for flights from the Chinese Mainland to Southeast Asia, in particular to Jakarta and Hanoi”, which had “compensated for the loss of traffic from flights that remained suspended last month, notably from the UK, the Philippines and Indonesia”.

Lam also highlighted that 99 per cent of its Hong Kong-based pilots and 91 per cent of cabin crew had either booked or received their vaccinations, adding that “So far this year, there have been zero positive tests among the more than 75,700 tests that our operating Hong Kong-based aircrew have taken in the days following their arrival in Hong Kong”.

Meanwhile Cathay has also reported its interim results for the first half of 2021, with a net loss of HK$7.57 billion (US$965 million). Announcing the results the carrier said:

“Covid-19 will continue to have a severe impact on our business until borders progressively open and travel constraints are lifted. As governments (including HKSAR) have stated, this is only going to be possible when sufficiently high vaccination levels are achieved.

“There are encouraging signs of recovery in some domestic aviation markets. However, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements continue to affect cross-border travel adversely. The progress of vaccination is encouraging, but the pace and timing of recovery remain uncertain.

“We are only operating a small fraction of the passenger flights we were operating before the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope to operate up to 30 per cent of our pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021, but this is dependent on operational and passenger travel restrictions being lifted.

“We expect our cargo operations to continue to perform strongly in the second half of the year. We will maintain our focus on prudent cash management, targeting cash burn of less than HK$1.0 billion per month for the remainder of the year.

“We remain absolutely confident in the long-term prospects of Cathay Pacific and the future of Hong Kong as a leading international aviation hub. Our dual-brand approach, benefiting from the premium service of Cathay Pacific and the unique strengths and growth potential of HK Express, will position us well to take advantage of the recovery in the market when it happens.”

In other news, Cathay is “supporting the global Covid-19 vaccination effort”, by running a lucky draw for vaccinated Hong Kong residents, with a top prize of a flight with family and friends onboard the carrier’s new A321neo aircraft, ten prizes of one million Asia Miles, and a further 100 prizes of 100,000 Asia Miles. For more information click here.