Cathay Pacific released traffic figures for December and cumulative figures for the whole year that show new passenger and cargo records were achieved in 2005 on the back of continued investment in aircraft and network expansion.
The airline in December carried 1,411,884 passengers, a 10.9 percent increase over the same month the previous year, and 104,994 tonnes of cargo, up 26.3 percent. The peak year-end holiday season lifted the passenger load factor to a high 80.2 percent, up 1.2 percentage points from December the previous year with traditional high demand to Europe, South Pacific, the UK and the Philippines.
December’s cargo load factor was 68.5 percent, up only 0.3 points from a year ago. This reflected both the availability of greater capacity and directional imbalances of trade. Freighters departing Hong Kong full often return from Europe, North America and Australia with much lighter loads.
Figures for the full year show that passenger and cargo growth kept ahead of corresponding increases in capacity – an indication that Cathay Pacific remained very competitive against other carriers.
The airline carried a record 15,438,243 passengers in 2005, a 13.0 percent increase over 2004 – itself a record year. The passenger load factor in 2005 gained 1.7 points to 78.7 percent. The volume of cargo carried increased 15.0 percent to 1,118,047 tonnes, another annual record. The cargo load factor for the year dipped 1.7 points to 67.0 percent.
Meanwhile, passenger capacity measured in terms of available seat kilometres, or ASKs, increased 11.8 percent over the same period as seven passenger aircraft joined the fleet, enabling more flights. A third daily service was added to Los Angeles, a fourth to London and additional flights were launched to Amsterdam, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Nagoya, Perth, Singapore and Xiamen.
Two freighters joined the airline’s fleet during the course of the year, including last month’s delivery of the world’s first freighter converted from a Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft. A brand new freighter service was launched to Dallas and Atlanta. This contributed to a 12.9 percent increase in cargo capacity, measured in terms of available cargo/mail tonne kilometres.
Cathay Pacific’s fleet will total 100 aircraft in 2006, its 60th Anniversary year. Pressing ahead with future growth, the airline in December announced its biggest-ever acquisition of new aircraft with orders for 16 long-haul Boeing 777-300ERs and purchase rights on 20 more, plus three Airbus A330-300s for regional services.
Over the Chinese New Year period, Cathay Pacific will operate an additional 68 pairs of flights to meet peak demand. Extra services and charters will operate to Taipei, Sapporo, Seoul, Bangkok, Osaka, Langkawi and Pusan. The airline operated 52 additional pairs of flights during last year’s Lunar New Year.
Cathay Pacific Country Manager for the UAE and Oman, James Evans said, "We have had a good December and a successful 2005, despite high fuel prices undermining a strong all-round performance. The strength of our network sustained all our new services introduced through the year. December traffic figures were very good even though Christmas and the Chinese New Year holiday fall within a month of each other. But with the additional flights planned this year, the Chinese New Year is shaping up to be very busy and demanding for us.”
“The air cargo market out of Hong Kong has been growing very strongly and in spite of the sharp contrast with the weaker in-bound market over the last year we still do see good potential. Earning the support of our guests and clients here in the UAE and internationally is the essence of our business and we will fulfill our potential as a leading airline for the 21st century by total customer focus.”