Cathay Pacific Shelves Half Of Their Entire Fleet, 75% Of March Flights Cancelled

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Cathay Pacific has been hit hard by the current economic climate and health scares which has lead management to park half of the airlines entire fleet and also scrap 3/4 of all flights in March.

The company has parked a total of 120 aircraft at various lots which includes planes from both Cathay Pacific Mainline and Cathay Dragon.

Airlines all around the world have reduced capacity but what Cathay Pacific does is a pretty drastic step as they ceased the vast majority of operations.

South China Morning Post reports today that half of the fleet is sitting in parking lots and flights for March 2020 are cut by three quarters.

Cathay Pacific Group has 120 planes sitting on the tarmac at any given time, accounting for about half of its fleet, and has scrapped more than three-quarters of its weekly flights in March.

Sources familiar with the situation said the number of planes left on the ground was likely to rise as Cathay warned of further cuts in flight schedules.

“We are continuously assessing our fleet and aircraft deployment in order to best align capacity with market demand,” a spokeswoman for the airline said, declining to address the number of parked planes.

Last week, Cathay said 75 per cent of staff, or 25,000 employees of the group, would take unpaid leave.

The airline’s flying schedules for March show a decline of around 75 per cent, according to a study by the Post.

Originally, around 1,470 flights per week were scheduled in March for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. That number has now been cut by more than 1,120.

During the Sars crisis of 2003, Cathay reduced its passenger schedule by 45 per cent and parked 22 aircraft out of a fleet of 80. …

Yesterday I returned from Singapore where operations were still buzzing but I was surprised not to see any Cathay Pacific aircraft as usually the airport is swarming with CX planes. The same goes for Bangkok.

It’s unclear to me how the 25,000 employees are going to fare taking unpaid leave for an extended period of time. While the HK government has announced a bonus scheme for citizens and permanent residents of Hong Kong through their 2020 budget it’s not near enough to cover a regular income.

Last week John wrote about Cathay’s Marco Polo Club status relief program to make requalification easier for those members who are in danger to lose their status due to Coronavirus related travel cuts. Given the way it looks right now I don’t see that scheme working if these cancellations last beyond April. My guess is that Marco Polo Club will have to come out with a blanket policy and extend all status levels for another year if they want to keep customers tied to Cathay Pacific.

Conclusion

The COVID19 Coronavirus situation will have a much more severe impact on the travel industry than the SARS epidemic or Bird Flu in previous years. The Coronavirus is a global problem now and will likely be upgraded to the status of a pandemic in the not too distant future.

As such airlines worldwide are cutting back capacity as the demand for air travel either collapses due to passengers not wanting to travel or even because some routes have been suspended by local governments as precaution measure. It’s very possible that some carriers won’t survive this and as far as Cathay Pacific is concerned I guess it’ll depend on how much of a lifeline their majority owners (Swire Group 45% / Air China 29%) are willing to give the airline once this is all over.

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