Aerospace & Defense

Cathay Pacific lowers Q4 capacity forecast as travel restrictions linger

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  • Plans to fly 13% of pre-pandemic passenger capacity
  • Had hoped to boost capacity to 30% of pre-COVID levels
  • Passenger numbers were 95.3% below 2019 levels in August
  • Commits to 10% sustainable aviation fuel target by 2030

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) said on Monday it had lowered its passenger capacity forecast for the remainder of the year to 13% of pre-COVID levels, down from an earlier 30% target for the fourth quarter as travel restrictions linger.

The airline said it continued to target cash burn of less than HK$1 billion ($130 million) a month for the rest of the year. read more

Hong Kong lacks a domestic aviation market and has some of the world's toughest pandemic-related travel restrictions.

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The city requires fully vaccinated travellers from destinations considered "high-risk", including the United States and Britain, to spend three weeks in hotel quarantine.

Cathay last month said its target of reaching 30% of pre-COVID passenger capacity in the fourth quarter hinged on quarantine rules for passengers and crew being relaxed. read more

Passenger numbers in August were better than in previous months because of strong student traffic from China to the United States and Britain but were 95.3% below the same month in 2019, the airline said.

A Cathay Pacific jet is seen in front of air traffic control tower at the Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong, China October 24 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

Cathay said the cargo market strengthened in August, with freighter demand ramping up to peak season levels.

Air cargo accounted for 80% of the airline's revenue in the first half of the year due to the pandemic-related hit to passenger demand.

Cathay separately said on Monday that it had committed to using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for 10% of its fuel consumption by 2030 as part of its broader commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L) set the same 2030 SAF targets earlier this year. read more

Doing so would require a major ramp-up in production as SAF accounts for less than 0.1% of jet fuel at present, according to airlines group IATA.

Cathay said a deal with Fulcrum BioEnergy would give it access to some SAF for flights departing the United States from 2024.

($1 = 7.7875 Hong Kong dollars)

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Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Tom Hogue, Gerry Doyle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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