HONG KONG, March 20 (Xinhua) - Hong Kong-based airline company Cathy Pacific announced on Friday to reduce its passenger capacity by 96 percent in the coming months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while low-fare airline HK Express announced to temporarily suspend all its flight operations from March 23 to April 30.
A passenger wears protective gear, as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, after arriving at Hong Kong’s international airport on March 19, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon will reduce capacity by 96 percent across their passenger network in April and May in light of the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan, Cathy Pacific said.
"As previously announced, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon intend to operate a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule in April and May, though our freighter capacity remains intact," the company said, adding that the airlines' ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by the governments around the world, which will further dampen passenger demand.
"We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented. We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically," said Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam.
HK Express said it will suspend all flight operations on a short-term basis starting from March 23 until April 30, in light of the significant drop in travel demand as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and growing travel restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government as well as various governments across Asia.
The airline is looking into resuming flight operations on May 1 and closely monitoring the development of the situation, it said.
HK Express CEO Mandy Ng said "This is a decision we have not taken lightly. Unfortunately, it is now essential in order to ensure we see ourselves through this extremely difficult period. Given all the challenges we have been facing. Preserving our cash position is key to make sure we stay together as team."