Uh Oh: Cathay Pacific Cutting Flights Due To Weak Demand

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific has had a rough several weeks. There have been huge protests in Hong Kong for months, and that has increasingly impacted the airline.

Not only has it decreased demand for travel to & through Hong Kong, but the airline has also found themselves in hot water with China. We’ve now seen both Cathay Pacific’s CEO & Chairman resign.

Cathay Pacific’s August Traffic Results

Cathay Pacific has just reported their August traffic numbers, and they’re certainly suffering from what’s going on right now, though frankly it’s not quite as bad was I was expecting (then again, August is a peak traffic month, so…). Comparing August 2019 to August 2018:

  • The airline saw an 11.3% drop in passengers
  • The airline increased available seat kilometers by 5.1%
  • The airline saw a 7.2% decrease in load factors, to 79.9%

Well, with a pretty gloomy short-term forecast, the airline has just updated their schedule to cut quite a few routes.

Cathay Pacific A350 business class

What Routes & Flights Is Cathay Pacific Cutting?

Given the rough short-term forecast for the airline, Cathay Pacific has just announced some route cuts. This is in addition to the recent announcement that they’ll be cutting Vancouver to New York flights as of next spring.

Cathay Pacific will be cutting the following flights, as reported by Airline Route:

  • As of October 27, 2019, Cathay Pacific is suspending their 4x weekly flight between Hong Kong and Dublin for the winter
  • As of October 27, 2019, Cathay Pacific is canceling one of their Hong Kong to Paris flights, which operates 3x weekly (CX279/278)
  • As of October 27, 2019, Cathay Pacific is cutting 3x weekly flights between Hong Kong and New York
  • As of October 29, 2019, Cathay Pacific is cutting 3x weekly flights between Hong Kong and Vancouver
  • As of October 30, 2019, Cathay Pacific is canceling one of their 5x weekly flights between Hong Kong and Washington
  • As of November 1, 2019, Cathay Pacific is canceling one of their Hong Kong to Frankfurt flights, which operates 3x weekly (CX283/282)

In addition to that, we’re seeing select Cathay Dragon flights canceled to Beijing, Medan, and Tokyo Haneda.

Cathay Dragon A330

Cathay Pacific Route Changes Summary

We’re seeing Cathay Pacific cut flights altogether to Dublin (a route they just launched last year), and reduce flights to all kinds of key business markets, like Frankfurt, New York, Paris, Vancouver, and Washington.

Winter can be a tough season for airlines in general, so I’ll be curious to see how his unfolds, and whether we see these routes and frequencies restored, or if we see further cuts.

This sure is a shame, especially as Cathay Pacific had a positive turnaround in 2018, when they were once again profitable. That didn’t last long…

  1. Poor Cathay. Personally I think they’re a great airline and service is great onboard and on the ground.
    I really hope that these ongoing concerns do not impact on staff employment.

  2. They should first reduce price for Business Class. Who would pay 4000€ for their ticket if I can fly with Qatar for 1800€.

  3. also my flight PVG-HKG on 24th got cancelled and rebooked into a KA flight. Check some fares from SHA to HKG yielded some super low fares probably as a result of the unrest, as expected. HK would take a long time to recover from this.

  4. I’m SINHKG twice a month in J. My biggest frustration on CX? They don’t turn on the AC on the ground so you’re sweaty AF until the moment of takeoff.

    SQ (usually 30% more $ from home market) and budget airlines do however turn on the AC on the ground.

  5. I’m hoping these are just some temporary suspensions, especially the Dublin service. In their press release on their August traffic report, it stated, “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. 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% for the period.”

    This is a difficult situation for CX, but they went through Asian financial crisis and SARS and came out fine. I personally will support CX and about to buy their biz class tix from North America to Asia for the upcoming business trip.

  6. Lools like none of the chinese routes are affected? The route segment HKG-KUL is Always interesting with groups of unruly mainland passengers making a lot of noise and ignoring cabin crew instruction to remain seated during Take off and landing.

  7. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this could be the beginning of the end for Cathay. Their trouble is not just about protests at the Hong Kong airport. Pro-China folks see Cathay as an Anti-China company and the partial ownership of the Chinese government makes the Hong Kongers view them as a pro-China company. Nobody wants to fly them. They’ve somehow managed to anger their two biggest constituencies of customers.

  8. @Rob – that’s not ‘bad new’, that’s just your conspiracy theory. You can share your views, but don’t call it news.

  9. To be honest, Cathay has been very poorly run for a while now and things have been looking grim since the fuel hedging debacle (under Slosar who has now finally stepped down). Hogg took over and while he manage to bring CX back to profitability he did it at the expense of the onboard product which is downright poor. Cathay is better off without these men running it.

    Now, as long as the riots are going on we can still expect the airline to struggle however.

  10. Honouring all those error fares will not have helped one bit; and the same people who took advantage are the ones now lamenting Cathay’s woes. Frequent Flyer irony.

  11. Sounds like the perfect time to start making Z inventory available again.

    CX survived SARS. They’ll survive this too.

  12. Having flown CX several times in the past few months in business / first I have noticed a big drop in their soft product. Does anyone know if they have been replacing their HK crew with those from the mainland?

  13. Well they could start by dropping their prices a bit. My wife’s company frequents Guangzhou and HK ordinarily choosing CX (ORD-HK) premium economy at $2700 RT vs $7k RT In J. We’ve found RT in J on Hainan for $3k and been allowed to book that for her instead. Maybe lesser service and enjoyment experience overall but certainly not $4k less.

  14. I think they simply charge too much! They gotta be competitive or they will crumble.
    It’s a solid airline and it would be a shame for OW to lose them…

  15. I was booked to fly CX to Singapore in J with a stop-over in HKG next week. But cancelled it and rebooked with Singapore Airlines (at a much higher cost) as its a very short time-sensitive business trip and I couldn’t risk having the flight cancelled/delayed or missed due to airport problems. That also means a night at the Mandarin Oriental was cancelled, plus dinner bookings and an extra night added in Singapore. I’m sure I’m not the only one avoiding HKG when it’s unnecessary.

  16. Quick look at JFK/LAX-SIN or BKK PE or J fares. It’s too easy to see why CX lose money. They simply charge too much and thanks to google (and internet), people are more savvy with shopping for different options. CX seems stuck their head in sand and think people willing to pay premium to fly with CX.

  17. I’m booked on Cathay in early Jan going first class from ORD-HKG, then business class from HKG-BKK (I used Alaska Airlines miles). Should either or both of these flights by canceled would I be rebooked on other flights, or would I simply be refunded the miles?

  18. I’m on one of those TPAC flights that is now closed to new reservations. Presumably that is a precursor to being cancelled entirely. Not many alternative schedule choices, other than a half-a-day different flight timing. What is the advice here? Wait and see what happens, or try to proactively do something about it now?

  19. Washington State (Seattle) or Washington DC? I believe they fly 4x week to both destinations instead of 5 (please correct me if I’m wrong). So which flight would be cut off they’re already at 4x?

  20. Being DC based that is sad news. I have a couple of HKG to IAD flights booked. When do we find out which one is being cut?

  21. Mike nailed it above:

    > Honouring all those error fares will not have helped one bit;
    > and the same people who took advantage are the ones now
    > lamenting Cathay’s woes.
    > Frequent Flyer irony.

    More than irony. Hypocrisy.

  22. And still no award seats in Business or first
    I wouldn’t be surprised if they go belly up.
    Other the nice professional FAs and satisfactory on board f&B most of CP is just ok at best for extortionate pricing
    And did I say still no premium award seats?
    Sad excuse of an airline that could be great

  23. @ Daniel B – It looks like the overnight flight (midnight-1am departure) bit the dust (three days per week). Just try to look for tickets and you can see which days are gone. I don’t remember for certain, but I think it was Tues, Thurs and Sat nights.

  24. @RT: thanks. I have checked CX’s website and it seems that my flights are still on. Hopefully it will not change!

  25. Just landed in Ord from HKG. Flight was less than half full in J. Last week on our way to HKG from ORD, only 12 pax in J. And on our SIN-HKG 108 total pax on a 777-300ER… Some very light loads across the board. Spoke with the Chief purser on every flight and they all said that they were sad they were caught in the middle of all this…one even openly blamed China. My guess is that the September numbers will be even lower than August.

  26. My flight HKG to JFK flight on Jan 2020 is no longer listed in their website and Google flights. I called CP help line twice to have it change but non of their representatives know anything about it. As far as they are concern the flight is still on and they are charging me a rebooking fee if i change the flight. What are my options in this type of situation?

  27. Going back a few years, Cathay were known for comfort and service at a great price. Now, their prices are often better by other established airlines, never mind the local competitors and the new A350s are woeful. We did MAN to TPE earlier in the year and they are so crammed in. Might be OK short haul but not for 12 hours!

    The only step up is premium economy which more than doubles the price.

    Service also seemed poor, stewardess wouldn’t ask the person in front to put their seat upright at meal times even though the couldn’t get the tray in!

  28. @Jean M — “Spoke with the Chief purser on every flight and they all said that they were sad they were caught in the middle of all this…one even openly blamed China”

    More truth to this explanation than can be openly acknowledged?

  29. My CX itinerary for Nov. decimated by cancellation of a flight JFK-HKG and HKG-ADL, same day! CX rebooked onto alternative flights which are awkward to say the least. Keeping my eye out for alternative airlines flights so I can cancel CX. Too unreliable in current HK circumstances sorry to say.

  30. @BillC Many FAs and pilots have been fired over the past month over their involvement in the protests or their social media posts after China put pressure on the company. Hence the reason I was surprise that one had a very open chat with me about the situation and even blamed the Chinese Authorities.

  31. @Jean M — “Hence the reason I was surprise that one had a very open chat with me about the situation and even blamed the Chinese Authorities.”

    Yes … you’re absolutely correct — hence my rhetorical question! 🙂

  32. Regarding the mistake fares: Many of those seats would likely have gone unsold, especially now. So if they get $1500, that’s better than zero.

  33. Not just HK. Reported today, China Southern is tossing its capacities away from Europe and America in favor of domestic, Asian and Australian routes. We are on a prologue of a global recession, so that is likely the new norm.

  34. Cathay has a solid and consistent soft product if you don’t look like a mainlander.
    Otherwise it’s a hit or miss.

  35. Given the unrest in HK right now and lack of passenger demand, I’m hardly surprised to learn that Cathay has to slash some flights. I have a feeling that it will get a lot worst before it ever gets better for Cathay. This is an entirely different beast for Cathay to overcome.

    I used to fly YYZ – HKG on J twice a year (yes it is the route that had 2 flights with oxygen tank tampered recently!). But I would rather erred on the side of caution and avoid Cathay for a while.

  36. They charge too much as simple as that ! I live and fly Hkg to YVR and HKG to LHR and HKG to SFO and Cathay are thousands more than other good Airlines so never fly them on paid tickets only use miles. In addition in the last year the product has gone down and the staff are rude. This is a slow road to disaster and will not improve. They have had there day and now it is China that will see there end.

  37. It’s true CX usually demands a premium price; however, they are not always the most expensive. I just purchased my roundtrip business class tix from USA to Taipei on CX, route through JFK, and it costs about $4600 total, including the domestic portion on Delta (btw, it’s one of the cheapest option out there). If I buy roundtrip on UA instead (all segments on UA), it will cost $6600, and often times, it can cost as high as $7000. How can UA command 50% higher fare over CX is beyond my comprehension.

  38. Oh yes, I hope Cathay Pacific loses all customers and will be gone forever. Why not change the colors on all planes right now and write AirChina on it?
    This will be more honest if people know what they are actually flying with.
    Every year for many years, my company, even my family and I only book tickets at Cathay Pacific, but now that we know they are against democracy and freedom of speech, we will not spend a penny more.
    Sad for the Hong Kong employees, the few that are left, but I think they should better find another airline before working for a Chinese government company

  39. Wonder why ? Staff at Cathay Pacific too busy protesting or supporting protests which is turning into riots .

    YOU cannot be of service to passengers with an attitude ! Grow up ! Worse than that why should China let you over their air space without some respect from you ?

  40. @Winnie the Puuh 😉
    Now there is some ACTUALLY LOADED COMMENTS. I will leave a meme for you to appreciate: “were China to become democratic today, Mr. Tsai would likely not even have time to get to her bunker!”

  41. @X — “were China to become democratic today, Mr. Tsai would likely not even have time to get to her bunker!”

    Huh? Are you referring to Mr. Tsai or Miss Tsai? Who’s Mr. Tsai, anyway? I’m confused! Please clarify?

  42. @TenantUSA – I can’t agree with you more.

    @BillC – I believe that the “Mr/Miss Tsai” that X refers to is “Democracy”. Democracy and Freedom is good until mob violence takes control, which is what happen in HK right now.

  43. @Anthony — “I believe that the “Mr/Miss Tsai” that X refers to is “Democracy”. Democracy and Freedom is good until mob violence takes control, which is what happen in HK”

    … unless @X meant to refer to Taiwan and its current lady president Ms. Tsai … in which case there was a big typo, as she’s *not* married (and hence no Mr. Tsai exists)! 😛

  44. We were just notified yesterday that our CX flight from IAD to HKG on December 25 had a “schedule change” (not operating), and we were rebooked on AA connecting in DFW outbound and LAX inbound (we booked on aa.com). This itinerary adds 10 hours to the trip time both ways, losing a day in HKG and a night on return. I wonder why they didn’t let us know a long time ago of these cuts were decided back in September.

  45. Every time I look at CX for flights from YVR to my Thai home, they are much more expensive than say EVA or China Airlines in my normal class of travel (PE) for my dates. I don’t get it. And some of their aircraft don’t have dedicated washrooms for this class either. Easy choice for me not to fly with them.

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