September was a difficult month for Cathay Pacific and wholly owned subsidiary Dragonair, with the airlines reporting a combined year-over-year cargo decline of 10.1 percent. It was the sixth consecutive month of loss, a Cathay Pacific spokesman revealed.
Together, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair transported 131,443 tonnes of freight and mail in September. This wasn’t the only area of loss for the carriers, however. Capacity and load factor were also down last month, falling 0.8 percent and 5 percent, year-over-year, respectively.
These numbers reflect a general slump in the worldwide cargo market, highlighted by Cathay Pacific and Dragonair’s year-to-date freight losses of 6.4 percent, despite an overall capacity increase of 9.8 percent. Fortunately, James Woodrow, Cathay’s general manager of cargo sales and marketing, said, September’s numbers haven’t deviated too much from those of recent months.
“On the cargo side, there was no significant change from the situation in August, with the key Hong Kong and China markets both remaining soft and demand to long-haul destinations, particularly Europe, below expectations,” Woodrow said in a statement “There is no sign yet of the traditional year-end peak beginning.”
It’s a statement echoed by International Air Transport Association officials. Although IATA found that the Asia-Pacific airfreight sector has the highest market share and profit ratio, the region hasn’t been able to offset the losses from the March tsunami and earthquake in Japan. What’s more, Asia-Pacific passenger and freight carriers, which are projected to profit $2.5 billion in 2011, can’t compete with the $8 billion profit they experienced last year, an IATA spokeswoman revealed.
But there is hope, Woodrow explained. “On the positive side, intra-Asia traffic is holding up well and flights from most destinations into Hong Kong have been relatively full,” he said in a statement. If fact, Woodrow said, Cathay Pacific recently commenced freighter services to Chongqing and Chengdu to address Western China’s growing manufacturing sector.
The Asia-Pacific’s tourism sector is apparently also booming. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair welcomed a total of 2,255,605 passengers last month — a 3.5-percent improvement from September 2010 — on a capacity increase of 9.8 percent.