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Cathay Pacific Cargo sees less dramatic losses

By Hpanchal on July 16, 2012

Cathay Pacific and wholly owned subsidiary Dragonair transported 127,698 tonnes of cargo and mail in June, a 5.4 percent, year-over-year, drop. Although a slight loss, this figure is a marked improvement for the Asian carriers; Cathay Pacific and Dragionair saw freight volumes plummet 11 percent and 10.6 percent, year-over-year, respectively, in April and May.

The combined carriers also saw a slight uptick in freight load factor last month. Despite Cathay Pacific and Dragonair’s cargo and mail load factor only totaling 65.7 percent in June — a 1.3 percent, year-over-year, decline — this figure was higher than in previous months. Comparatively, the carriers’ average freight load factor totaled 64.3 percent in the first six months of 2012, a 4.1-percent drop from from the first half of 2011.

Such figures speak to the serious declines Cathay Pacific and Dragonair have faced so far this year. According to a press release, the carriers saw freight traffic contract 9.8 percent, year-over-year, in the first six months of 2012 amid a capacity reduction of 4.3 percent.

James Woodrow, Cathay Pacific’s manager of cargo sales and marketing, praised the carrier for seeing improved numbers in June, but said that Cathay Pacific and Dragonair’s struggles are far from over. “The fall in cargo tonnage was not as sharp as in previous months in 2012, but that reflects the weakness of the cargo market at the same time last year,” he said in a statement.

Still, Woodrow said freight traffic within Asia “continued to hold up well” in June while Cathay's transpacific routes benefited from an influx of cherries from the U.S. “Given the continued weakness of the market, however, our priority remains to manage capacity in line with demand,” Woodrow stated.

In May, Cathay Pacific announced plans to retire three Boeing 747-400BCFs from its fleet this year. The carrier will still take delivery of three additional Boeing 747-8Fs in 2012, with two more arriving in 2013, but the retirements mean that freighter capacity growth will be flat this year. Earlier company projections pegged freighter growth for 2012 at 3 percent, according to a press release.

The carrier also announced in May that it’s now aiming for 4-percent growth in its total cargo capacity (belly-hold and freighter), rather than the 7-percent growth it had anticipated for 2012. In a press release, officials blamed high fuel prices and challenging market conditions on the downgraded forecast.

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