Cathay Pacific has released its latest traffic figures for March 2022, showing a 99 per cent reduction in passenger numbers compared to 2019.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier flew just 30,628 passengers last month, with load factors at 45.6 per cent.

The airline 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 welcomed the recent easing of travel restrictions, which saw the lifting of a travel ban on nine countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and the US on April 1.

However chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said that “travel and operational restrictions remain stringent, and we have only been able to achieve a modest increase to our passenger flight capacity”.

“March was yet another very difficult month for our travel business,” said Lam. “Passenger flight capacity remained extremely low at just under 2 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels.

“We relied heavily on ex-Hong Kong traffic throughout March as the bans on transit traffic at Hong Kong International Airport and on flights from nine countries remained in place during the month.

“We are very pleased that both restrictions were lifted on April 1. Our first flight after the ban was lifted departed London on March 31 bringing 264 passengers home to Hong Kong the next day.

“In March, we also had to trim down our passenger flight capacity to the Chinese Mainland, and Shanghai in particular, in response to the city’s tightened anti-pandemic measures.

”We welcome the lifting of the transit ban and the place-specific suspension mechanism, the rationalisation of the flight-specific suspension mechanism, as well as the reduction of the mandatory quarantine period for both travellers and aircrew alike in April.”