Cathay cash burn improves as Hong Kong starts easing COVID curbs

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. expects cash burn to drop to less than HK$500 million ($64 million) a month within “the next few months” as Hong Kong gradually rolls back some of the world’s strictest, and longest lingering, COVID-19 curbs.

Photo courtesy of Hong Kong International Airport.

“The recent adjustments to the government’s travel restrictions and quarantine requirements will help facilitate the gradual resumption of travel activities and the strengthening of network connectivity to and from the Hong Kong aviation hub,” the carrier said in a statement Wednesday.

It noted that flight arrangements from early June will include daily flights to and from London Heathrow as well as a resumption or increase in passenger flights to the US, Australia, New Zealand and India. Cathay is wholly reliant on international travel considering it has no domestic market.

Cathay, which at its annual general meeting earlier Wednesday warned Hong Kong is falling behind as the rest of the world reopens, posted traffic figures for April that are still well down on pre-Covid levels. The airline carried a total of 40,823 passengers last month, up 82.2% on April 2021 but 98.7% lower than April 2019.

Still, the city is starting to ease travel curbs, lift flight bans and reduce lengthy quarantine stays that largely closed it off to the rest of the world for more than two years.

“We will continue to look for opportunities to add back capacity, and rebuild our hub and network,” Cathay Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said. “April saw some positive developments for our travel business with improved demand across our network.”

Cargo has also been something of a bright spot for Cathay. The airline carried 92,361 tonnes of cargo last month, an increase of 26.3% compared to April 2021 but a 43.6% decrease compared with the same period in 2019.

At the annual general meeting. Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Sharpe said the airline’s liquidity remained healthy.

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