Cathay Pacific to operate less than 50% of pre-pandemic capacity in 2021

Aircraft fleet parked on taxiway of Hong Kong International Airport. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Cathay Pacific to operate less than 50% of pre-pandemic capacity in 2021

  • The airline said it planned to operate around 10 percent of its pre-pandemic capacity for the remainder of 2020

SYDNEY: Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said on Monday it expects to operate less than 50 percent of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in 2021 as it nears completion of a strategic review that could lead to major job losses.

The airline said it planned to operate around 10 percent of its pre-pandemic capacity for the remainder of 2020, with most borders remaining closed.

The airline industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as many countries imposed travel restrictions to contain its spread. Many of the curbs still remain in place.

“Among the multiple scenarios studied, this one is already the most optimistic that we can responsibly adopt at this moment,” Cathay said in the release of its monthly traffic figures to the stock exchange.

The airline said it assumed it would be operating well below 25 percent of pre-pandemic capacity in the first half of 2021 but that there would be a recovery in the second half if vaccines currently under development proved effective and are widely adopted in its key markets by the middle of 2021.

In September, the airline’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1 percent compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6 percent.

Cathay had in June said it was reviewing its strategy in light of the travel downturn, with “tough decisions” to be announced during the fourth quarter.

The South China Morning Post reported on Monday the Cathay board was expected to back a restructuring plan this week that included staff redundancies and pay cuts, citing unnamed sources.

In response, Cathay told Reuters it declined to comment on speculation.

Singapore Airlines Ltd. has announced plans to cut around 20 percent of positions, while Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd. has said it will cut nearly 30 percent of its pre-pandemic staff, but Cathay has so far refrained from major job cuts.

Cathay has sent around 40 percent of its passenger fleet to less humid locations outside Hong Kong for storage.


Egypt plans big rail expansion, nears agreement with Bechtel

Updated 12 min 19 sec ago

Egypt plans big rail expansion, nears agreement with Bechtel

  • Egypt also plans a 438.5km fast rail at a cost of $8.2 billion

CAIRO: Egypt is rushing ahead with plans for an expansion of its metro and railway networks and is near agreement with Bechtel to implement Cairo’s sixth metro line, Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir said on Monday.

Speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce, Wazir said most of the bigger transport projects, which also include dry ports and river transport, should be finished by the end of 2024.

Egypt was working on a memorandum of understanding with Bechtel for feasibility studies and implementation of the $5 billion, 30km sixth metro line, he said.

“Just yesterday we had the contracts and we quickly reached near-agreement,” Wazir said.

“We told them to submit a written offer. If we reach agreement we will begin working at once and expedite all the contracts and agreements.”

Egypt had lined up finance for the metro line from Canada, America, Britain, France and Japan, Wazir said. He did not give its route, but reports have said it will run east of the Nile from north to south.

Last week, Egypt’s Orascom Construction said it and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation had signed an $800 million contract with Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels for work on the 19km first phase of Cairo’s fourth metro line, with financing from Japan.

That line will extend underground from central Cairo to the Pyramids to the west, connecting 16 stations.

Among planned new railways around Cairo are a 49km $175 million line from 6th of October city to the Nile north of Cairo, a 69km $235 million cargo line from Bilbeis to eastern Cairo and a $435 million, 227km dual line to Atay Al-Baroud on the western edge of the Delta.

Egypt also plans a 438.5km fast rail at a cost of $8.2 billion.

In Alexandria it plans a $1.7 billion metro line to the eastern suburb of Abu Qir and a $406 million upgrade of an above-ground tramline through the city.