Cathay Pacific cuts 30% capacity across network, asks staff to go on 3 week unpaid leave

Cathay Pacific is having a bad hour. The second half of 2019, the Hong Kong protests took off, and Cathay Pacific was impacted in terms of operations, and then the demand was hurting out of the city-state. And now, it is the Coronavirus issue which is further impacting demand for travel to and transit traffic via Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, with China being in containment mode at the moment and governments around the globe taking measures to ensure they avoid the virus spreading into their country by putting in place measures to stop those who stepped into China from entering their countries, Cathay Pacific has seen their business go down drastically, with many people stating that they are 50% down on the number of customers they are flying at the moment. They are now taking measures to slash capacity across the network to ensure they don’t operate where they are not needed.

Cathay Pacific cuts 30% of the route network

Cathay Pacific has now joined the club of airlines who are cutting flights to/from mainland China and Hong Kong. As per Danny Lee at SCMP, who is one of the most reliable sources for information on Cathay Pacific, here are the cuts that are being put in place from February 10 to March 28, 2020.

  • 90% of the flights to mainland China
  • Inclusive of these cuts to mainland China, 30% of the overall capacity will be cut

Many routes are being already cut on the airline, as per AirlineRoute filings,

Cathay Pacific

  • Hong Kong – Beijing Capital, eff 10FEB20 CX displays up to 9 weekly instead of 21 (Previous plan for 10FEB20 – 28MAR20 period as of 03FEB20: 18-21 weekly)
  • Hong Kong – Shanghai Pu Dong eff 10FEB20 7 weekly instead of 21 (Previous plan: 17-21)
  • Hong Kong – Adelaide 04MAR20 – 28MAR20 2 of 4 weekly closed for reservation
  • Hong Kong – Auckland 22FEB20 – 28MAR20 Selected dates display no flight available for booking, or 1 of 2 daily open for reservation
  • Hong Kong – Barcelona 01MAR20 – 28MAR20 2 of 4 weekly closed for reservation
  • Hong Kong – Brussels 01MAR20 – 28MAR20 1 of 4 weekly services is only available to book in J/W/Y-class
  • Hong Kong – Cape Town Reservation closed from 17FEB20 to 28FEB20 (This route is served seasonal until 28FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Dubai 10FEB20 – 28MAR20 1 of 2 daily closed for reservation (Selected dates in February continues to show 2 daily available)
  • Hong Kong – Frankfurt Certain dates in March 2020 is showing only First Class and Business Class available for reservation
  • Hong Kong – London Gatwick 17FEB20 – 28MAR20 5-7 weekly reservation closed (Selected dates in Feb is showing certain fare classes available to book)
  • Hong Kong – Los Angeles 12FEB20 – 28MAR20 1 of 3 daily closed for reservation (Selected dates displaying only 1 flight open for booking)
  • Hong Kong – Manchester 24FEB20 – 28MAR20 Reservation is closed on various dates
  • Hong Kong – Melbourne 10FEB20 – 28MAR20 On various dates, only 1-2 daily service is available for reservation, instead of 3 (Selected dates displaying only 1 flight open for booking)
  • Hong Kong – Milan Malpensa Service cancelled until 28APR20
  • Hong Kong – Newark 17FEB20 – 15MAR20 1 daily reservation closed
  • Hong Kong – Perth 01MAR20 – 28MAR20 Selected dates closed for reservation
  • Hong Kong – Rome Service cancelled until 27APR20
  • Hong Kong – Sydney 18FEB20 – 28MAR20 1 of 4 daily service closed for reservation (Selected dates displaying only 2 flight open for booking, while some dates in February continues to show 4 daily available)
  • Hong Kong – Tel Aviv 01MAR20 – 28MAR20 3 of 7 weekly only available to book in J/W/Y-class
  • Hong Kong – Toronto 01MAR20 – 28MAR20 3 of 10 weekly closed for reservation (Except selected dates)
  • Vancouver – New York JFK 18FEB20 – 27MAR20 1 daily reservation closed

Cathay Dragon

  • Hong Kong – Beijing Capital eff 10FEB20 KA displays up to 14 weekly instead of 42 (Previous plan for 10FEB20 – 28MAR20 period as of 03FEB20: 28-35 weekly)
  • Hong Kong – Changsha eff 10FEB20 7 weekly removed (Previous plan: 3)
  • Hong Kong – Chengdu eff 11FEB20 4 weekly instead of 14 weekly (Previous plan: 4-5)
  • Hong Kong – Chongqing eff 05FEB20 7 weekly cancelled (Previous plan prior to announced cancellation: 3 weekly from 11FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Fuzhou eff 10FEB20 14 weekly removed (Previous plan: 7)
  • Hong Kong – Guangzhou eff 05FEB20 14 weekly cancelled (Previous plan: 6 from 11FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Guilin eff 08FEB20 4 weekly removed (Previous plan: 2)
  • Hong Kong – Haikou eff 02FEB20 7 weekly cancelled (Normal operation on 08FEB20; Previous plan: 3 from 10FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Hangzhou eff 02FEB20 28 weekly cancelled (Previous plan: 10 from 08FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Jinan eff 10FEB20 4 weekly removed (Previous plan: 1)
  • Hong Kong – Kunming eff 09FEB20 7 weekly removed  (Previous plan: 3)
  • Hong Kong – Nanjing eff 10FEB20 14 weekly removed (Previous plan: 4)
  • Hong Kong – Nanning eff 09FEB20 4 weekly removed (Previous plan: 1)
  • Hong Kong – Ningbo eff 02FEB20 14 weekly cancelled (Previous plan: 5 from 10FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Qingdao eff 09FEB20 7 weekly removed (Previous plan: 3)
  • Hong Kong – Sanya eff 02FEB20 5 weekly cancelled (Previous plan: 2 from 10FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Shanghai Hongqiao eff 10FEB20 7 weekly instead of 9 (No changes)
  • Hong Kong – Shanghai Pu Dong eff 10FEB20 up to 2 daily instead of 10 (Previous plan: up to 3 daily)
  • Hong Kong – Wenzhou eff 02FEB20 9 weekly cancelled (Previous plan: 6 from 10FEB20, 4 from 17FEB20)
  • Hong Kong – Wuhan eff 23JAN20 10 weekly cancelled (Cancellation until 31MAR20)
  • Hong Kong – Xi’An eff 09FEB20 7 weekly removed (Previous plan: 3)
  • Hong Kong – Xiamen eff 10FEB20 7 weekly instead of 21 (No changes)
  • Hong Kong – Zhengzhou eff 10FEB20 7 weekly removed (Previous plan: 3)

Whichever way one wants to look at this, the airline will suffer because this is an iterative loop at the moment, with a reduced network cutting the ability of other passengers to choose the airline as well for their travels.

Cathay Pacific employees being asked to go on three weeks unpaid leave

Cathay Pacific has also asked all of their 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave between March 1 and June 30, 2020, in a bid to save cash. This is the first time after 2009 when such a leave scheme has been introduced. Then, it was because of the Global Financial Crisis. Here is a video message from the CEO of the airline to the employees.


The impact on Cathay Pacific due to the geopolitical events, and now the events which are not under their control can’t be overstated. Unfortunately for CX, both the brands of the airline are very closely tied to mainland China, and many passengers used them for access to/from the mainland. The rational to cut flights and request people to go on unpaid leave does not look out of place then. What is unknown is how long will this situation last for the airline.

Have your plans been impacted due to the cutbacks at Cathay Pacific? How has Cathay worked to resolve it with you?


About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Would be nice if Cathay followed other airlines leads and offered change waivers – I need to cancel next week’s flights into Hong Kong – they’re charging $120 each way to redeposit my points – so for 3 people $700 unacceptable…

  2. Thanks for keeping a real-time tracking. You may want to also update that Air China on Monday also temporarily suspended its flight operations from Feb 5th on PEK-BOM-PEK till end March.

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