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Hong Kong’s Aviation Industry Gradually Rebounds

A Cathay Pacific 777 at the gate in Los Angeles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Hong Kong continues an upward trend after the lifting of travel restrictions. Cathay Pacific — the city’s flag carrier — has carried over 1.3 million passengers last month, with an increase of 19% compared with February. The load factor was over 90%.

Cathay Pacific and HK Express, its no-frills airline, has reached 50% pre-pandemic flight capacity, covering more than 70 destinations as of the end of March. Cathay Pacific has enhanced its services by adding flights to Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport, the Chinese city of Haikou and Nagoya, Japan in March.

“Our Japan and South Korea flights benefited from good passenger traffic for the cherry blossom season and demand ahead of the Easter holiday. Demand between Hong Kong and Taiwan was similarly strong, including transit traffic from Taiwan to Europe and Indonesia via the Hong Kong hub,” Lavinia Lau, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, said.

In the meantime, Hong Kong International Airport has welcomed 2.8 million passengers in March, with an increase over 30% to the previous month. The airport has handled approximately 100,000 passengers each day, reaching 50% of 2019 levels.

The aviation hub handled seven million passengers in the first three months of 2023. Compared to 2019, the airport served 18.8 million passengers in the first quarter. Earlier, Hong Kong International Airport was crowned the world’s busiest cargo airport in 2022.

In March, Hong Kong International Airport has welcomed the return of United Airlines. The airline has resumed the flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, British Airways has doubled its operations to Hong Kong as its A350-1000 touched down at the airport. Earlier, Virgin Atlantic — the rival of British Airways — announced the termination of the flights between London and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Airlines is operating 45% flight capacity of pre-pandemic levels. In March, the carrier has launched the flight operations to Beijing’s Daxing International Airport, becoming the only Hong Kong carrier to serve to Daxing and Beijing Capital Airport.

Affordable Price Tag

After three years of pandemic, Hong Kong has a long way to go before returning to normality. The shortage of staff is becoming all too familiar after the pandemic.

Hongkongers currently pay through the nose for the air tickets. The pent- up travel demand is outstripping supply and the customers need to book months earlier to secure their vacations. Some customers have  postponed their vacations and hoping for a cheaper fare.

In response to the staff issues, Qantas has delayed resuming flights between Melbourne, Australia and Hong Kong to June. Australia is one of Hongkonger’s favurite travel destinations. In addition, some Asian airlines haven’t returned to Hong Kong at the moment, such as Jin Air, Jetstar Japan, Mandarin Airlines, SpiceJet and Indigo.

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