DALLAS – The Cathay Pacific Group has said it aims to fly 70% of pre-Covid passenger capacity levels by the end of 2023. But it won’t be until the end of 2024 that the company expects capacity to return to 2019 numbers.
The group, which consists of Cathay Pacific (CX) and HK Express (UO), said in a statement that it is ‘committed to restoring passenger capacity and connectivity in the Hong Kong aviation hub to serve the needs of the Hong Kong and international travel markets.’
To do this, the airline will add around 3,000 flights by the end of 2022, ramping up capacity by a third. The move comes after Hong Kong authorities eased stringent travel restrictions that had crippled travel to and from one of Asia’s most connected cities.
Addressing the Challenges
Cathay CEO Augustus Tang said that the airline was “taking a measured and responsible approach to managing our own road to recovery, with a need to address challenges that are unique to Hong Kong.”
He went on to say that despite the travel restriction, the group’s “recovery trajectory is in line with other carriers that don’t benefit from a domestic market in terms of the time taken since borders began to open.”
The group recently announced that Tang would be stepping down as CEO to be replaced by CX’s Commercial Chief Ronald Lam from January 1, 2023.
Hong Kong Hub
“Importantly, we have sufficient pilots, cabin crew, and operational employees to support our current flight schedules, and we are confident that our ongoing recruitment plans will ensure this remains the case throughout the recovery. The short-term bottlenecks lie in the recertification of pilots who have not been flying regularly for a long period of time and the reactivation of aircraft. We have been bolstering our capabilities to expedite this process,” Tang added.
The statement from the group also added that under the ’14th Five-Year Plan,’ Hong Kong will be strengthened as an ‘international aviation hub.’ Tang explained, “As we continue to increase our passenger flight capacity, we also look forward to the completion of the Three Runway System at Hong Kong International Airport in 2024, which remains pivotal to the long-term future of the hub.”
Featured Image: CX Airbus A350-900 (B-LXA). Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways