Cathay Pacific carried 22,404 passengers in April, a 99.3 per cent decrease on April 2019 before the pandemic struck.
However, despite the low numbers the figure still represented an increase of 63.2 per cent on April 2020.
This equated to an increase in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) of 32.6 per cent year on year, although again it was equal to a fall of 99.1 per cent when compared to April 2019.
Passenger load factor increased by 2.5 percentage points to 24.2 per cent, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 18.9 per cent, but remained 96.8 per cent down on April 2019 levels.
In the first four months of 2021, the number of passengers carried dropped by 97.9 per cent against a 90.2 per cent decrease in capacity and a 97.7 per cent decrease in RPKs, as compared to the same period for 2020.
Cathay Pacific group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “The pace of recovery continues to be slow.
“In April, passenger demand was still very weak and despite average daily passenger numbers improving slightly, overall passenger numbers remained low at just 22,404.
“We cautiously reinstated more capacity to our network, including resuming regular services to Chengdu, Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Melbourne and Perth.
“Overall, we operated 21 per cent more capacity in April than we did in March, though this still represented a 96.8 per cent drop compared with the pre-pandemic level in April 2019. Load factor also improved slightly but remained low at 24.2 per cent.
“In the first half of April, we added more flights to cater for demand from student travellers heading to London. We also successfully operated two special flights that departed from London on 21 and 28 April to bring Hong Kong residents home.
“We are very proud that these marked our first flights operated by fully vaccinated pilots and cabin crew, and also our first flights from London since December last year.
“Furthermore, with the ban on flights to Hong Kong from the UK having been lifted earlier this month, we are pleased to now be operating regular flights from London Heathrow again.
“We were also encouraged to see more demand towards the end of April for traffic from the Chinese mainland under the Hong Kong SAR Government’s expanded Return2HK scheme, and we will be resuming flights to Fuzhou and Hangzhou at the end of May.
“However, travel restrictions continue to impact our passenger business, as was the case with the temporary suspension of all flights from the Philippines to Hong Kong by the Hong Kong SAR Government in mid-April.”
Looking to the future, Lam said he was not expecting any immediate change, adding: “Looking ahead at the passenger business, we still are not seeing signs of immediate meaningful improvement in overall passenger demand.
“While we are disappointed with the postponement of the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble flights, we are nevertheless very encouraged by the demand for two-way, all-purpose, quarantine-free air travel flight arrangements among our customers.
“We look forward to the resumption of our Air Travel Bubble flights.
“The latest relaxation of quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Hong Kong-based aircrew operating passenger flights as well as those operating cargo services is a welcome development that will progressively reduce our monthly cash burn and have a positive impact on our passenger and cargo business.
“Already, more than 80 per cent of our pilots and over 40 per cent of our cabin crew in Hong Kong have either booked or received their vaccination.
“We expect our May cargo schedule to gradually recover as more of our crew are fully vaccinated, and we are grateful for the enduring dedication of all our aircrew, who continue to do their jobs brilliantly during this challenging time.
“We also welcome the easing of quarantine requirements in Hong Kong for fully vaccinated travellers earlier this month, which is a crucial step in the return to normal international air travel.”