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Cathay Passenger Numbers Rise 122.1% In December 2023

Cathay Pacific has released its passenger figures for December 2023, showing a strong recovery of air travel and cargo demand for the year.

Passenger and Cargo Growth Soars in 2023

Cathay Pacific has made a remarkable recovery in 2023, hitting the high mark of over 20 million travelers. This is a significant leap from the three million passengers the airline served in 2022.

Cathay Pacific

In December 2023 alone, Cathay Pacific saw 1.78 million passengers. That is a 122.1% surge from the same month the previous year. The airline posted an 89.3% rise in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs). Available seat kilometers (ASKs) also saw a 94% uptick. The airline reports a slight dip in passenger load factor to 81.2%. Overall, last year’s passengers carried rose by an extraordinary 541.5%, with ASKs and RPKs climbing by 326.8% and 396.8%, respectively.

Cargo transport for Cathay Pacific also grew. The airline moved 128,546 tonnes in December 2023, marking a 20.7% increase from the last year. Cargo revenue tonne kilometers (RFTKs) rose by 14.1%. The cargo load factor slightly reduced to 60.8%. Over the full year, cargo tonnage went up by 19.6%. Available cargo tonne kilometers (AFTKs) and RFTKs surged by 59.7% and 40.3%, respectively.

Cathay Pacific’s latest figures demonstrate strong performance and recovery in the airline industry for 2023.

Travel Demand: Cathay Pacific

Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Lavinia Lau said: “December traditionally marks the peak travel season and we saw many customers take advantage of the extended Christmas holiday to travel, resulting in strong demand for travel services throughout the month. There was overwhelming demand for travel to short-haul leisure destinations, with Japan and Southeast Asia being especially popular.

“We saw good demand for travel from the United States and the Southwest Pacific in the first half of December. The demand for travel from the United Kingdom was particularly strong as it coincided with the peak period for international students returning to Hong Kong. Furthermore, our seasonal Christchurch service, which resumed last month, was popular not only among Hong Kong customers, but also stimulated transit traffic to and from the Philippines and the United Kingdom.”

Cargo Business: Cathay Pacific

“Our cargo business performed well in December, and finished on a high, primarily driven by the strong year-end demand for e-commerce products. Additionally, there was increased demand for perishable goods for the holiday season. December also saw a pickup in our Live Animal solutions with significant numbers of racehorses being moved across our network in support of the Hong Kong international race events.

“In total, we carried almost 1.4 million tonnes of air cargo throughout 2023, compared with about 1.2 million tonnes in 2022, which was an encouraging result.”

Cathay Pacific Outlook

“As a Group, we made significant progress in our rebuild journey in 2023. As we look ahead to 2024, we remain committed to working towards fully rebuilding our flights, with the aim of delivering the high-quality and reliable services that Hong Kong deserves. Despite the ongoing challenges that are affecting the entire global aviation industry, we are prepared to face them, as always, with determination.

“The Lunar New Year is approaching and this will mark another peak travel period when people celebrate and visit loved ones. We anticipate strong demand from late January until the end of the Lunar New Year holiday. Looking further ahead, we are also delighted to announce that our popular Barcelona service will resume in June, and we look forward to welcoming customers onboard.

“In terms of cargo, we expect demand to steadily pick up from the second half of the month with the e-commerce demand on the Americas and European lanes remaining solid and local demand strengthening up to the Lunar New Year holidays.”

Cathay Pacific December 2023 Figures and Glossary

The full Cathay Pacific December 2023 figures and glossary follow.

CATHAY PACIFIC TRAFFICDEC 2023% Change VS DEC 2022 Cumulative DEC 2023Change YTD
RPK (000)    
 – Chinese Mainland323,033375.5%3,409,675585.4%
 – North East Asia1,049,071106.5%10,062,123920.2%
 – South East Asia929,916104.4%9,206,298613.6%
 – South Asia, Middle East & Africa448,752129.6%3,903,290604.1%
 – South West Pacific1,057,29581.8%9,365,105368.0%
 – North America1,862,26578.7%19,782,983274.4%
 – Europe1,339,96356.9%17,612,312324.3%
RPK Total (000)7,010,29689.3%73,341,787396.8%
Passengers carried1,779,457122.1%17,985,158541.5%
Cargo revenue tonne km (000)737,25114.1%8,098,95640.3%
Cargo carried (000kg)128,54620.7%1,380,81919.6%
Number of flight sectors (passenger and cargo)9,03176.5%89,946114.0%
CATHAY PACIFIC CAPACITYDEC 2023% ChangeVS DEC 2022 CumulativeDEC 2023Change YTD
ASK (000)    
 – Chinese Mainland496,460297.9%4,738,355291.4%
 – North East Asia1,315,822103.9%12,436,845731.8%
 – South East Asia1,139,64280.7%11,415,632456.5%
 – South Asia, Middle East & Africa536,661134.5%4,773,863467.5%
 – South West Pacific1,272,25285.1%11,199,295313.1%
 – North America2,230,17492.5%21,535,260213.6%
 – Europe1,637,90368.4%19,508,195299.9%
ASK Total (000)8,628,91394.0%85,607,445326.8%
Passenger load factor81.2%-2.0%pt85.7%12.1%pt
Available cargo tonne km (000)1,211,75526.3%13,068,62959.7%
Cargo load factor60.8%-6.5%pt62.0%-8.6%pt
ATK (000)2,033,21946.9%21,225,405110.2%



  • Available seat kilometres (“ASK”)
    • Passenger seat capacity, measured in seats available for the carriage of passengers on each sector multiplied by the sector distance.
  • Available tonne kilometres (“ATK”)
    • Overall capacity measured in tonnes available for the carriage of passengers, excess baggage, cargo on each sector multiplied by the sector distance.
  • Available cargo tonne kilometres (“AFTK”)
    • Cargo capacity measured in tonnes available for the carriage of freight on each sector multiplied by the sector distance.
  • Revenue passenger kilometres (“RPK”)
    • Number of passengers carried on each sector multiplied by the sector distance.
  • Cargo revenue tonne kilometres (“RFTK”)
    • Amount of cargo, measured in tonnes, carried on each sector multiplied by the sector distance.
  • Ratio:
    • Revenue passenger kilometres/Cargo revenue tonne kilometres
  • Passenger/Cargo load factor =   
    • ASK divided by RPK, AFTK divided by RFTK

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