14.Sep .2020 15:20

Cathay Pacific says it's losing up to $258 million a month as passengers drop nearly 99%

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Cathay Pacific Group, the owner of Hong Kong's flagship airline, says it's losing hundreds of millions of dollars a month as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pummel global demand for travel.

The company said Monday that its two main carriers -- Cathay Pacific and regional sister airline Cathay Dragon -- only carried about 36,000 passengers altogether last month, plunging 98.8% compared to the same time a year ago.

While the company has continuously taken steps to cut costs, it is still "burning cash" at a rate of 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($194 million) to 2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($258 million) per month, according to chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.

“We are weathering the storm for now, but the fact remains that we simply will not survive unless we adapt our airlines for the new travel market," he said in a statement.

"A restructuring will therefore be inevitable to protect the company, the Hong Kong aviation hub, and the livelihoods of as many people as possible."

Cathay was bailed out by Hong Kong's government in June. That helped give the company "time and a platform from which to transform our business and continue to operate in the short term," said Lam. "However, it is an investment that we need to repay."

The company expects a long road back to recovery. Lam noted that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently pushed back its global forecast for an industry rebound "by a year to 2024, demonstrating just how slow a return to pre-pandemic levels will be."