Cathay shows confidence in the Middle East
Hong Kong-based cargo giant Cathay Pacific has announced a series of measures to help combat the downturn, with turnover in the first quarter of 2009 22.4% lower than in the same period last year. Significantly, however, freighter schedules to Middle East end destinations remain unchanged.
Cathay will remove overall cargo capacity by 11% by reducing its weekly freighter frequencies to 84, from 124 during its 2008 high. The company has also decided to mothball two more B747-400BCFs, bringing the total to five, while also wetleasing one BCF to subsidiary Air Hong Kong.
A new set of cuts mean that a large selection of key passenger destinations will also suffer from downgrades or reduced frequencies. Dubai is one of the locations that will be downgraded; the emirate will now be serviced by a A330 instead of a 747.
However, the news for other Middle Eastern destinations points towards the resilience of the aviation sector in this region. The airline's Bahrain/Riyadh service will be given three more fights, making it a daily frequency from August onwards.
"We anticipate an extremely challenging year in 2009 and a toxic combination of low fares, a big drop in premium travel, weak cargo loads, poor yields and a negative currency impact is making it more important than ever to preserve cash," said Cathay CEO Tony Tyler.