[photopress:air_cathaypacific747.jpg,full,alignright]It is almost certainly a combination of events which has brought down the number of air travelers. Bad weather, the Sichuan earthquake, higher fares due to fuel increases have all played their part. This development has significant ramifications for its domestic and international airlines and airports.
A 10% fall in Air China’s international and domestic traffic in May followed reductions in April with Air China’s load factors dropping as capacity continues to grow.
China’s biggest domestic carrier, China Southern Airlines, reports domestic passenger numbers were down 0.1% in May, its first monthly reduction since the SARS outbreak five years ago.
[photopress:air_China_Southern_Airlines_1.jpg,full,alignleft]Chinese carriers are, of course, not the only ones affected.
Finnair recently described its May 2008 traffic figures as ‘gruesome’, adding, ‘demand has dropped, especially on Chinese routes’ and attributing the causes to the Sichuan earthquake and restrictions on travel.
There are exceptions. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific expanded faster in May than in any month since the mid-2004 post-SARS year-on-year catch-up.
Cathay expanded capacity by 16% last month and traffic more than matched the increase, leading to a 2.3 percentage point increase in passenger load factor to 77.4%.
Cathay does not record the effect of this on its yields, but is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about passenger demand heading into the summer peak season.
Source: The Australian