Call it a déjà vu. For Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, Asia’s largest international airline by passenger traffic as well as the world’s largest cargo airline in terms of traffic in 2010, bumps along the ride are not a new thing nor are they unanticipated. Its then chief executive Tony Tyler, who went on to become the director general (DG) of the Geneva-based industry body International Air Transport Association (IATA), famously said “the one thing I have learned during my airline career is that just when you think things could not get worse, they usually do”.
This could not be more true for the oneworld alliance member. After enjoying a robust year of 2010 in which record cargo traffic drove the airline to become the world’s most profitable carrier by posting a full-year profit of HK$14 billion (US$1.8 billion), 2011 has proved to be a challenging year for Cathay with cargo traffic which accounts for 30% of its total revenues, measured in freight tonnage kilometres (FTKs), slumping for every month since April 2011 while passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), continued to grow steadily over the same period.