Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific, Dragonair Jan passenger traffic down 3.5 pct on yr

Hong Kong (XFN-ASIA) - Cathay Pacific Airways said it and unit

Dragonair carried a combined 1.73 mln passengers in January, down 3.5 pct compared

with the combined figure for the same month last year.

January marks the first time the two airlines have given a combined passenger figure following Cathay's acquisition of Dragonair.

Of the total January figure, Dragonair accounted for 332,891 passengers with a passenger load factor of 55.2 pct.

Ian Shiu, Cathay Pacific's general manager for revenue management, sales and distribution, said an accurate year-on-year comparison is difficult because the Chinese New Year holiday peak was in January last year, while it fell in February this year.

As a result of the disparity in the timing of the holidays, the January 2006 revenue passenger kilometer (RPK) data were inflated by extra flights, mainly to China and northeast Asian destinations.

The disparity also explains a 1.4 percentage drop in passenger load factor to 77 pct last month, he said.

Capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), rose by 1.8 pct yr-on-yr in January.

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair together carried 122,551 tons of cargo in January, marginally down from the same month last year.

The combined cargo load factor for the two carriers was 62.2 pct, down 0.2 percentage points yr-on-yr.

"Advance loads for the Chinese New Year holiday period for both Cathay Pacific and Dragonair are promising," said Shiu.

"Both airlines are operating more additional flights to meet peak demand and we are looking forward to a strong performance in February. In addition, demand for long-haul flights, specially in the front end, continues to be strong," he said.

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