Cathay Pacific To Cut United States Capacity As Protests Drag On

Cathy Pacific has announced capacity cuts to its winter schedule, in particular to US routes. This comes following months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, leading to a huge drop in traffic to and from the city.

Cathay Pacific A330
Ongoing protests in Hong Kong have forced Cathay to drop some capacity. Photo: Cathay

Following Cathay’s poor performance in August, the carrier is now planning to cut capacity. Recent financial reports showed that inbound traffic to Hong Kong was down 38% in August, while outbound traffic dropped by 12%.

In a statement provided to Reuters, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam commented,

“Given the current significant decline in forward bookings for the remainder of the year, we will make some short-term tactical measures such as capacity realignments. Specifically, we are reducing our capacity growth such that it will be slightly down year-on-year for the 2019 winter season versus our original growth plan of more than 6% for the period.”

Subsequently, Routes Online has reported inventory changes which affect the winter timetable for Cathay, with many US and European routes seeing capacity cut.

Cuts to services

According to scheduling information published by Routes Online, The following services from Hong Kong, served by Cathay Pacific, will see cuts:

  • Dublin: Closed for reservations from 27th October
  • Frankfurt: Closed for reservations from 1st November except over Christmas and New Year
  • Paris (CDG): Closed for reservations from 27th October except over Christmas and New Year
  • New York (JFK): Reduced capacity from 21 to 18 flights per week from 29th October
  • Vancouver: Reduced capacity from 17 to 14 flights per week from 29th October
  • Washington Dulles: Reduced capacity from five to four flights per week from 30th October

According to Routes, other services are seeing some selected days of closure or dates over the winter where they will not operate.

As well as Cathay’s main services, it’s subsidiary Cathay Dragon is also cutting some routes. From Hong Kong, Beijing will close from 27th October, Medan Kuala Nami from 26th October and Tokyo Haneda from 4th November.

Cathay Dragon A330
Changes for regional Cathay Dragon too. Photo: Cathay

These changes are expected to be seasonal and could change again; passengers are advised to check the carrier’s schedule at the time of booking for up to date information.

Premium class demand down

For Cathay, the toughest statistic they are grappling with is that the demand for premium travel is significantly down. Premium cabin sales are the big-ticket items for any airline and is where Cathay will be making most of its profits.

Cathay Pacific 777
Protests in Hong Kong have made life difficult for the carrier. Photo: Cathay

Cathay has arguably been the biggest casualty of the Hong Kong protests. Previously, flights were suspended for a day when the airport became completely jammed. Subsequently, Beijing demanded the airline submit the names of any employees who were conducting flights over the mainland; any who were found to be involved in the protests would have their right to fly revoked.

The airline responded by threatening staff with termination if they were found to be protesting. Following criticism of this action, CEO Rupert Hogg tendered his resignation, followed days later by Chairman John Slosar.

The schedule information provided in this article was from Routes Online.