Cathay Pacific and Dragonair experienced a 19.5 percent, year-over-year, decline in cargo carried last month. At the same time, capacity fell by 6.7 percent, year over year. Load factor finished the month at 59.9 percent, a 7.9-point drop. Cargo tonnes flown fell 27.6 percent. Passenger numbers, however, rose 11.9 percent when compared to January 2011.
One reason for the passenger increase, said James Tong, Cathay’s general manager, revenue management, was that the Chinese New Year fell in January this year; last year, the holiday occurred in February.
On the cargo side, Cathay has been dealing with weak markets despite the holiday. “Apart from a modest pre-Chinese New Year rush, the cargo markets were generally soft throughout January and were particularly weak during the holiday and post-holiday period, as factories in Mainland China ceased operations,” Cathay’s James Woodrow said in a statement.
“Our key markets remain soft,” he continued, “and we have been cutting capacity aggressively to match demand on trunk routes to North America and Europe.”
January’s numbers show the most severe drop in a year-long pattern of declining cargo figures. In December, Cathay reported an 11.9-percent, year-over-year, drop in cargo carried, with a 6.9-percent capacity increase. Cargo carried decreased, year-over-year, by 13.8 percent in November and 17.5 percent in October. In fact, the most recent month where Cathay saw an increase in cargo and mail carried was March 2011, when the carrier reported a 1.4-percent, year-over-year, increase. February’s cargo numbers showed a decline of 2.3 percent, but January’s total was up 6.8 percent when compared to January 2010.
A poor end to 2011 lead Woodrow in December to characterize the previous 12 months as “a challenging year overall.”