Published on Monday, October 21, 2019

Cathay Pacific issues profit warning as traffic continues to plunge

Cathay Pacific has suffered a further drop in traffic as Hong Kong's anti-government protests continue to put people off visiting the destination.

Cathay carried 2.4 million passengers in September, which was down 7.1% year-on-year, leading group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam issued a second-half profit warning.

The airline now expects second-half earnings to be lower than in the first six months of the year.

Cathay has cut capacity and downgraded some routes but load factors still fell to 73.6% last month.

Lam said the airline is mulling 'short-term tactical' measures which will kick in for the October-March winter season.

"We continue to see a significant shortfall in inbound bookings for the remainder of 2019 as compared to the same snapshot last year. This has been felt most strongly with bookings from mainland China and our other Asian markets," Lam said.

Traditionally Cathay can rely on the Golden Week national holidays in China to boost load factor and yields, but the ongoing protests have scared mainland Chinese visitors away.

Passenger numbers from mainland China were down 23.3% in September, although Lam said the airline's transit traffic was 'relatively stable.'

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