The Resurgence of Cathay Pacific: A Triumph in February 2024

An image of a Cathay Pacific airplane parked at an airport terminal, with ground crew members conducting maintenance and luggage loading tasks
Cathay Pacific aircraft undergoing pre-flight preparations at the airport, showcasing the airline's commitment to safety and efficiency.

Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong-based airline, has recently disclosed its latest batch of traffic statistics for the month of February in 2024, showcasing a commendable rebound driven by robust travel demand, particularly during the Chinese New Year festivities.

A Significant Milestone

On the 18th of February 2024, amidst the holiday fervor, Cathay Pacific achieved a remarkable feat by ferrying over 70,000 passengers and operating a total of 272 passenger flight segments. This marked the highest daily figures recorded by the airline since the onset of the pandemic in December 2019.

Impressive Growth

In February 2024, Cathay Pacific witnessed a substantial surge in passenger numbers, carrying a total of 1.8 million travelers. This represents a striking increase of 61.6% compared to February 2023. Moreover, the month saw a noteworthy rise of 50.3% in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs). Despite a slight dip of 3.8 percentage points in passenger load factors, which stood at 82.4%, this was attributed to the addition of more aircraft to the operational fleet over the past year, leading to a 57.3% increase in available seat kilometers (ASKs) year-on-year.

Continued Success

A professional headshot of Lavinia Lau, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer of Cathay Pacific, in a business attire, with a confident and friendly expression.
Lavinia Lau, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer of Cathay Pacific, exudes confidence and professionalism in this portrait, showcasing her leadership in the aviation industry.

Further highlighting Cathay Pacific’s commendable performance, the airline experienced a surge in passenger numbers during the initial two months of 2024, showcasing a 63.9% increase compared to the same period in 2023. This growth was complemented by a 60.6% rise in ASKs and a 53.4% increase in RPKs.

Lavinia Lau, the Chief Customer and Commercial Officer of Cathay Pacific, remarked, “Our passenger segment witnessed robust performance in February, driven by heightened travel activity during the Chinese New Year celebrations. We observed a significant uptick in demand from Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area, and mainland China, particularly on short-haul routes. Notably, our routes to mainland China recorded an impressive 85% load factor during the festive period.”

Resurgence in Key Markets

Lau further added, “We also noted a strong resurgence in bookings for our Japan routes, particularly from Hong Kong, following subdued demand in January due to seismic events in Japan.”

The recent implementation of visa-free travel between mainland China and several Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia has bolstered travel sentiment on these routes, contributing to Cathay Pacific’s positive performance. Additionally, the resumption of services to Chennai and Colombo in February received favorable responses from customers, with robust traffic observed on these routes.

Cargo Operations

A Cathay Cargo airplane descending for landing at an airport runway, with landing gear extended and runway lights visible in the background.
A Cathay Cargo airplane gracefully touches down on the airport runway, showcasing the precision and efficiency of air cargo operations.

Shifting focus to the cargo division, Cathay Pacific transported 107,039 tons of cargo in February 2024, marking a 3% increase compared to the previous year. The cargo revenue ton kilometers (RFTKs) witnessed a 3.8% year-on-year increase, while the cargo load factor experienced a slight decline of 7.5 percentage points to 59.2%. This was accompanied by a notable 16.9% increase in available cargo ton kilometers (AFTKs) year-on-year.

Looking Ahead Cathay Pacific remains optimistic about future prospects, with expectations of increased cargo demand in the latter half of the month as the first quarter draws to a close. The airline continues to strike a balance in its cargo operations, particularly driven by e-commerce activities originating from Hong Kong.

In a testament to its forward-looking approach, Cathay Pacific is deliberating on options for replacing its A330 fleet and is gearing up for the arrival of its inaugural long-range Boeing 777-9s by mid-2025. Additionally, the airline has placed orders for six Airbus A350 freighters for its cargo division.

The performance exhibited by Cathay Pacific in February 2024 underscores its resilience and adaptability in navigating challenging market conditions. With robust growth across passenger and cargo segments, coupled with strategic initiatives for fleet enhancement, the airline remains poised for continued success in the aviation landscape.

By staying attuned to evolving travel trends and maintaining operational excellence, Cathay Pacific solidifies its position as a key player in the global aviation industry, setting a benchmark for recovery and growth post-pandemic.

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