From the rapidly expanding “How bad can things get?” Covid-19 collection, an internal memo circulated within Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific outlined how an airline that typically carries over 100,000 passengers in a day flew only 582 on one day this past week.
Math majors among you will quickly calculate that’s a cumulative airline-wide load factor of less than 6% for that day. A regular daily figure 10 times that amount would make staying in business a challenge for most airlines. This number is catastrophic. Even Cathay’s actual airline-wide load factor, now running at about an average of 18%, places the flag carrier in an untenable financial position. Numbers such as these are why CAPA, an airline market intelligence firm, has predicted that by the end of May, most of the world’s airlines will be bankrupt.
According to a recent CNN Business article, “The pandemic has forced the airline industry into one of its worst crises in history. Last week, the International Air Transport Association predicted that carriers could lose up to US$252 billion in passenger revenue, down 44% compared to last year and more than double the organization’s previous estimate for a worst case scenario.”
The 582 passengers flown earlier this week by Cathay Pacific represented a 99% drop from the carrier’s daily expected average. Airlines worldwide are facing by far the most desperate crisis in commercial aviation history, one that will likely eclipse the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
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