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Cathay Pacific to cut capacity as demand for Hong Kong travel falls

Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would cut capacity for the upcoming winter season after reporting an 11.3% fall in passenger numbers in the month of August as anti-government protests in Hong Kong hit demand.

Passenger numbers fall 11.3% in August

Capacity to be reduced slightly in winter, had planned 6% rise

Conditions expected to remain difficult in September

Adds detail from statement

HONG KONG, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd 0293.HK said on Wednesday it would cut capacity for the upcoming winter season after reporting an 11.3% fall in passenger numbers in the month of August as anti-government protests in Hong Kong hit demand.

The airline said inbound traffic to Hong Kong in August had fallen by 38% and outbound traffic by 12% compared with the previous year, and it did not anticipate September would be any less difficult.

The Hong Kong airline has become the biggest corporate casualty of anti-government protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, demonstrations that have plunged the former British colony into a political crisis.

Cathay Chairman John Slosar last week announced plans to step down in November, less than three weeks after CEO Rupert Hogg left amid mounting regulatory scrutiny.

"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," Cathay Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement.

"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."

Cathay said demand for premium class travel had fallen more significantly than for leisure travel, with demand from mainland China and Northeast Asia severely hit, although Australia and New Zealand were more positive.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed Editing by Louise Heavens, Robert Birsel)

((Jamie.Freed@thomsonreuters.com; +65 6318 4789;))

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