Cathay Pacific cargo revenue up by 11.7 per cent in December 2021 vs 2020

In the full year of 2021, the tonnage increased by 0.1 per cent against a 10.9 per cent drop in capacity, compared to 2020

The airline carried 134,691 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 12 per cent compared to December 2020
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The airline carried 134,691 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 12 per cent compared to December 2020

Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific released December 2021 traffic figures that says the airline's cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) in December 2021 rose by 11.7 per cent year-on-year, but were down 14.7 per cent compared to December 2019.

The report below shows the cargo performance of the airline for 2021 as compared to 2020 and 2019 along with an outlook for 2022.

Cargo traffic figures for December 2021

The airline carried 134,691 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 12 per cent compared to December 2020, but a 24.1 per cent decrease compared with the same period in 2019.

The cargo load factor increased by 4 per cent points to 84.3 per cent, while the capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs) was up by 6.5 per cent year-on-year, but was down 32.9 per cent versus December 2019.

In the full year of 2021, the tonnage increased by 0.1 per cent against a 10.9 per cent drop in capacity and a 1.1 per cent decrease in RFTKs, as compared to 2020.

2021 full-year performance

Based on a preliminary review of the unaudited consolidated management accounts of the Cathay Pacific Group for the year ended 31 December 2021 and the information currently available to the Board of Directors of Cathay Pacific, the Group is expected to record a consolidated loss attributable to shareholders of approximately HK$5.6-6.1 billion.

The improvement was primarily driven by strong cargo demand, high cargo yield and load factors, together with continued focus on effective cash and cost management. In addition, the full-year 2020 result included the recognition of one-off items such as impairment charges and restructuring, which were significantly reduced in 2021.

Chief Executive Officer, Augustus Tang said,"While passenger travel continued to be acutely affected, cargo demand was strong throughout the year. We carried approximately 1.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2021, which compares to around 1.3 million tonnes in 2020 and 2 million tonnes in 2019. Throughout 2021, we deployed all available capacity to meet the consistently high demand, achieving strong yield and high load factors and transporting a wide range of goods including daily necessities, fresh produce, electrical items and pharmaceutical products.

"Despite quarantine restrictions and operational challenges, Cathay Pacific surpassed the milestone of 120 million COVID-19 vaccines carried in 2021. We carried more than 13.3 million doses in a single day. As a group, our airlines have carried more than 165 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccines around the world since the pandemic began.

"Having worked hard to tackle the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, taken decisive actions to create a more focused, efficient and competitive business and responded to strong cargo demand, we have reduced operating cash burn from the HK$2.5-3.0 billion range in the first half of 2020 down to marginally cash generative in the second half of 2021."

Cathay Pacific is still in the process of finalising the Group's annual results for the year ended 31 December 2021, and will publish its annual results in March 2022.

2022 outlook

Augustus Tang continued: "In late December and then early January, the Hong Kong SAR Government further tightened aircrew quarantine requirements and travel restrictions. These measures will have a significant impact on our passenger and cargo flight capacity. While we are fully committed to increasing our cargo capacity when conditions allow and to upholding Hong Kong's international aviation hub status, for the month of January 2022, cargo has reduced to 20 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity and passenger flights have reduced to around 2 per cent of their pre-pandemic capacity.

"Regrettably, the capacity reduction will have an impact on Cathay Pacific's business and we have been evaluating the potential impact of these measures on our operations and cost base. According to our preliminary assessment, we expect these capacity levels to result in an operating cash burn of HK$1.0-1.5 billion per month from February.

"Until conditions improve, we are doing everything in our power to maximise capacity, and estimate that mitigation measures to increase crew resources will enable us to operate approximately an additional 5 per cent more cargo flight capacity than we are currently operating.

"We continue to operate freighter services to the Chinese Mainland and regional destinations, as well as a daily freighter operation to North America. The shipment of goods to and from Europe and the Southwest Pacific is being served by passenger aircraft carrying only cargo.

"While passenger flights to the Chinese Mainland will remain largely unaffected, capacity to the rest of the Cathay Pacific network will see a reduction to ensure continued compliance with the latest Government measures. We will also leverage the capacity provided by our low-cost subsidiary HK Express to maintain connectivity with a number of regional destinations."

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