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Cathay Pacific to operate at below 50% of pre-Covid passenger capacity in 2021

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

Sydney

HONG Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Monday that it expects to operate less than 50 per cent 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 per cent 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.

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The airline said it assumed it would be operating well below 25 per cent 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 per cent compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6 per cent.

Cathay had in June said that 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 that 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 per cent of positions, while Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd has said it will cut nearly 30 per cent of its pre-pandemic staff, but Cathay has so far refrained from major job cuts.

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

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