Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific announced on Friday that it made an unaudited loss of HKD 4.5 billion between January and April, reporting a “very bleak” financial outlook amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes on the heels of a previously recorded loss of HKD 2 billion in February.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us in an unprecedented way,” Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement. In the last month, Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon carried only 13,729 passengers in a “bare skeleton” schedule, serving just 14 destinations. The figure translates to a 99.6% drop in passenger numbers as compared to the prior year. 

Earlier this month, Cathay Pacific revealed its decision to implement structural changes to cushion its losses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the airline announced plans to lay off almost 300 US-based cabin crew and to furlough 201 pilots based in Australia and Britain. Many of Cathay’s Hong Kong-based employees have also opted to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave. 

Lam said he saw “no immediate signs of improvement,” as daily passenger numbers are expected to remain low at around 500 in May. “Business and leisure travel will remain severely impacted for the foreseeable future,” he added. “Overall, we do not anticipate we will see a meaningful recovery for an extended period.”  

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that global airline passenger revenues will see a loss of USD 314 billion in 2020. Airlines in Asia-Pacific face the largest revenue drop at USD 113 billion, with a 50% fall in passenger demand. 

Lam concludes, “We are evaluating all aspects of our business to ensure that we remain strong and competitive when we emerge from this crisis.”


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