Cathay Pacific won’t be returning to South Africa this year due to ongoing restrictions against South African travellers, but the airline says it still sees commercial potential in resuming the Johannesburg-Hong Kong route in the future. In the interim, the airline has put an interline agreement in place with Emirates that allows inbound passengers to travel via Dubai to Johannesburg, but not outbound passengers originating in South Africa.
“Cathay Pacific is yet to resume schedules to South Africa but rest assured that we remain committed to servicing the Johannesburg route as soon as the situation allows. In the interim, we are pleased to see the resumption of our Hong Kong to Dubai flights with a twice-weekly schedule. As part of our Dubai resumption, we have released fares from Shanghai and Beijing to Johannesburg. This means that passengers can fly from Shanghai and Beijing on Cathay Pacific to Dubai, via Hong Kong, and then interline from Dubai to Johannesburg on a through ticket. We will continue to monitor the situation to see how best we can assist during these times,” said the airline in a recent statement distributed to its local travel trade partners.
Head of sales at Cathay Pacific, Shanna West, told Travel News that ongoing travel restrictions for travellers from South Africa together with restrictions that prevented Cathay Pacific’s crew from overnighting in South Africa, meant that the airline was still unable to resume its Johannesburg-Hong Kong route as planned. “We will definitely be returning to South Africa when restrictions ease, and still see strong commercial opportunities for this route, but it looks unlikely that the suspension of the route will be lifted this year. In the interim, passengers can fly into South Africa via our interline with Emirates Airline,” said Shanna.
She also confirmed that Cathay Pacific’s South African team remained employed and available to assist agents with any queries. She said it was encouraging to see some Cathay Pacific routes reporting some recovery globally and the network being slowly reinstated. “This is a step in the right direction.”
Cathay Pacific’s latest reported figures show that the airline carried 40 651 passengers during June, an increase of 50% compared with June 2020, but a 98,7% decrease on pre-pandemic levels in June 2019.
Chief customer and commercial officer of Cathay Pacific, Ronald Lam, reports that while passenger demand continues to be far below pre-COVID-19 levels, June did show some small signs of improvement for the airline overall.
“On June 25 we carried 2 011 passengers – the most of any day so far in 2021. We continue to progressively add more passenger services, resuming flights to Guangzhou, Seoul, Brisbane, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vancouver and San Francisco. Capacity has significantly increased by about 131% compared with May 2021, however we still operated at only about 8% of our June 2019 pre-pandemic capacity. Our recently resumed flights serving the Chinese mainland experienced particularly noteworthy demand, especially transit traffic to various long-haul destinations. We also saw increased demand from Taiwan and some Southeast Asian destinations. However, overall recovery continues to be affected by travel restrictions,” said Ronald.