Cathay Pacific Airways (0293) said yesterday it would cut capacity for the upcoming winter season after reporting an 11.3 percent fall in passenger numbers for August as anti-government protests in the city hit demand.
The airline said inbound traffic to Hong Kong in August had fallen by 38 percent and outbound traffic by 12 percent compared with the previous year, and it did not anticipate September would be any less difficult.
Finance Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po reported earlier this week that visitor arrivals plunged nearly 40 percent in August, deepening from July's 5 percent fall, as sometimes violent anti-government protests took a rising toll on the city's tourism, retail and hotel businesses.
The weak demand and cuts to capacity will place more pressure on Cathay at a time when it is grappling with management upheaval and is trying to complete a three-year financial turnaround plan driven by boosting revenue and slashing costs.
"Given the current significant decline in forward bookings for the remainder of the year, we will make some short-term tactical measures such as capacity realignments," Cathay chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said in a statement.
"Specifically, we are reducing our capacity growth such that it will be slightly down year-on-year for the 2019 winter season (from end October 2019 to end March 2020) versus our original growth plan of more than 6 percent for the period."
Cathay has become the biggest corporate casualty of the protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, the demonstrations.