Cathay Pacific will no longer fly to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth as of April, as the airline slashes its worldwide network to a mere dozen destinations.
Sydney will become Cathay Pacific's sole Australian destination, and even then it will see only three flights per week, compared to four flights per day at the end of last year.
The same 3x schedule will apply to London/Heathrow, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City. The airline's regional arm, Cathay Dragon, will operate three flights per week to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
Flights to all other destinations have been put on hold, representing a staggering 96% cut in passenger capacity, driven by "the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan."
The suspensions will run across April and May; Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are waiving all rebooking, rerouting and cancellation fees, with details published here.
Passengers heading out of Hong Kong on those flights will find only two Cathay Pacific lounges remain open – The Wing First Class and The Wing Business Class – as the airline has temporarily closed all other lounges "until further notice".
The Hong Kong-based airline admits to this being "a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule", and cautions "our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world, which will further dampen passenger demand."
Some of Cathay's aircraft will be flown empty of passengers but full of freight as the airline maintains its cargo lifeline.
“We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented," said Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam.
"We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically."
Cathay Pacific has been particularly exposed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline's international routes are funnelled through its busy Hong Kong hub, while Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon also maintained an extensive network of 368 flights per week to 23 destinations across mainland China.
The Oneworld member began cutting back flights in mid-February, and although the primary focus was on mainland China, the airline's worldwide capacity at the time was wound back by around 30%.
Later that month, Cathay closed three of its busiest Hong Kong lounges – The Pier First Class, The Deck and The Bridge – as passenger numbers continued to nosedive, with reports that The Pier Business Class is also set to close.