Cathay Pacific rises on January traffic performance. Singapore Airlines eases

Cathay Pacific’s shares gained 2.5% on Friday as the airline released traffic figures for Jan-2010 showing a small increase in passenger volumes and a “significant” rise in cargo tonnage.

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair carried a total of 2.1 million passengers last month, up 0.4% year-on-year, while passenger load factor rose 4.3 ppts to 83.8%, as capacity (ASKs) was reduced by 3.6%. Cathay stated the improved load factor reflects the “continuing pick-up in traffic from the lows of the financial crisis, led by our regional network”.

The airline added, “we were also encouraged to see premium passenger numbers growing, especially on long-haul routes, although there is still a very long way to go to get back to the volume and yield levels we enjoyed before the economic downturn."

The two airlines carried a total of 132,586 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, up 31.1% year-on-year. The cargo and mail load factor surged 15.8 ppts to 74.9% as capacity (FATKs) was 0.9% down. Cathay stated, “after a very strong end to 2009, we were pleased to see robust demand continue into the New Year. Direct comparisons with 2009 are distorted by the fact that our traffic volumes were being severely affected by the economic slump early last year. However, the fact that we had roughly the same capacity as the previous January but an almost 16-point increase in load factor shows the extent to which traffic has bounced back.”

Shares in rival Singapore Airlines fell 3% on Friday, while Qantas gained 0.7%. The Bombay stock exchange was closed, due to public holiday on 12-Feb-2010.

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 12-Feb-2010