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Coronavirus crisis

Cathay Pacific to send half of its fleet into desert storage

The Hong Kong-based airline expects a slow recovery in long-haul passenger numbers. That is why Cathay Pacific wants to put dozens of planes into long-term storage.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777: Some aircraft are already parked in the Australian desert.

Hong Kong’s largest airline is a long-haul specialist. The Covid-19 pandemic is therefore hitting Cathay Pacific particularly hard. As many travel warnings and quarantine regulations continue to apply on international travel, despite the easing of local restrictions, many other airlines are focusing on faster recovering short- and medium-haul routes for the time being.

Cathay Pacific is postponing deliveries of new wide-body aircraft. For its 150 existing aircraft, the airline is considering long-term storage outside of Hong Kong. According to the South China Morning Post, this could potentially affect half of its all-wide-body fleet.

Some aircraft were already sent to Australia

Cathay Pacific has already parked some aircraft in Alice Springs, Australia. In contrast to Hong Kong’s humid climate, the dry desert air is ideal for longer storage periods. In June it was announced that the airline would like to immobilize a large part of its fleet far from home. At that time, however, it was only talking about of up to 50 aircraft.

The airline apparently expects a slow recovery in passenger numbers. In August and September, the number of flights operated by Cathay Pacific was about one tenth of the previous year’s level. Over the first half of 2020, the airline reported a loss of the equivalent of 1.3 billion US Dollars. In the «greatest challenge» of its 70-year history, it has launched a comprehensive cost-cutting programme.

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