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Cathay Pacific Expects a Better Second Half of the Year

Cathay Pacific’s special “Spirit of Hong Kong” aircraft in Düsseldorf. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, expects its company finance could be improved as its cash burn will dip below HK$ 1 billion ($128.84 million) each month in the second half of the year. The struggling airline has burned up to HK$1.9 billion  per month in the first half of the year because of the crew quarantine policies.

The airline has forecasted the quarantine cost will decrease in the second half of 2021 as rules will be eased for its vaccinated staff, per Rebecca Sharpe, the airline’s Chief Financial Officer.

Cathay Pacific has announced its Hong Kong-based pilots and flight crew will need the vaccination by Aug. 31. But inn the wake of the low infection rate in the city and vaccine hesitancy, some Hong Kong residents are reluctant to take the Covid-19 vaccine since the vaccination program roll out.

The airline determined its new staff must take vaccine before joining the company. Cathay Pacific said 90% of pilots and more than 65% of cabin crew have vaccinated or have made appointments for vaccinations.

“We will review the future employment of those who are unable to become vaccinated and assess whether they can continue to be employed as aircrew with Cathay Pacific. We understand there will be some who cannot take a vaccine and we will look into accommodating them on a short-term basis where we can,” The airline said in a statement.

As a result of the low vaccination rate, Hong Kong’s conglomerates introduced some incentives to entice Hong Kong residents to take the vaccine. The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) has rolled out a lucky draw to the Hong Kong residents and airport staff. According to AA, 60,000 air tickets will be distributed.

Earlier, Cathay Pacific released its traffic figures for May. The report has revealed a total of 24,006 passengers have been carried, an increase of 30% compared to May 2020, but a 99.2% decrease compared to May 2019. However, the demand of cargo services remained firm.

The airline has seen an increase in demand and resumed some long-haul and Asia services, including flights to Amsterdam, Brisbane, Australia, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Seoul and Vancouver. Also, the carrier has enhanced the London frequencies to meet the student traveller’s demand. In the meantime, the airline is looking forward to the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, the airline has been faced a setback: Hong Kong’s government will ban U.K. flights from entering the city on Thursday due to the surge of Delta variant cases in the U.K.

Hong Kong’s aviation industry is still reeling from the coronavirus. Earlier, Hong Kong Airlines, the rival of Cathay Pacific, slashed 700 employees as executives will cut their salaries by up to 36&. The airline made an impassioned plea for financial help from the government. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Aviation Ground Service Ltd., wholly owned by Hong Kong Airlines, will be closed by July 1. The ground service company has 240 employees.

In the meantime, AA has announced that the relief package will be extended by two months to the end of July.

Pete Ainsley


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