Cathay kills Dragon, JetBlue’s first A220, AirAsia, COMAC, Etihad

Cathay kills the Dragon

Cathay Pacific announced further dramatic changes to its operations yesterday after declaring a 98.1% drop in passenger numbers, a staggeringly bad figure even under current circumstances.

The total number of passengers the airline under its CP and CD brands carried, was just 47,061 for the entire month of September.

Passenger load factors were even more devastatingly bad, showing that the average flight was just under a quarter full at 24.9%. The airline simply cannot be making money at those levels, especially bearing in mind the discount its offering to entice passengers.

Goodbye to the red tail

The airline has seen a drop of 81% in revenue per passenger kilometre (RPK), a key measure of viability.

Even the cargo market hasn’t held up so well. Partly this is down to deliberate policy by Beijing to remove Hong Kong from its crucial role as a trans-shipment port, and shift operations across the nominal border to Schenzen, Cargo was down over 36%.

Cathay Group is still making people redundant, and has decided it will close the Cathay Dragon brand (formerly Dragonair), making up to 6,000 largely Hong Kong based staff redundant. The airline simply can’t justify two brands when things are so dire and the market forecast is they will take years to recover international travel.


Meanwhile, China’s domestic travel has now returned to pre-covid levels for the first time since February. By comparison the United States, which has made virtually no attempt to manage the pandemic at a national level, saw a 1 day total of more than 1 million passengers for the first time since mid-March, although a decline looks set to return as the pandemic worsens and Trump continues to belittle efforts to stop it.

jetBlue looks to the future

jetBlue revealed its first A220-300 as it rolled out of Mobile, Alabama, yesterday.

The aircraft has a new tail design, called Hops. The plan is to use the type on city and island hops, utilising its capacity and range to meet more specific requirements than having to use an A320 or A321.

AirAsia X closes Indonesia operation

AirAsia X Berhad has announced the closure of the AirAsia X Indonesia business, and its complete liquidation as an entity.

The group has also written AirAsia X Thailand down to a zero value company, effectively ending it, but it hasn’t been formally liquidated.

The airline has already closed its Japanese operation.

Other news…

Delta has said it will stop blocking middle seats off for sale in January, and this came as jetBlue amongst others picked up on military funded research that said it was almost impossible to catch Covid on a plane, and there was a 1% chance, PROVIDED masks were worn at all times and airlines continued their stringent regimes of sanitising aircraft between flights, as well as temperature checking and ideally testing passengers before a flight. Meanwhile Japanese investigators slammed the report saying it was just bad math, and the conclusions were far from reality as they were conducted in perfect conditions.

Growing uncertainty they will every fly commercially again

More hints out of Abu Dhabi suggest Etihad isn’t planning on bringing its A380’s back – ever, and its looking more and more like Qatar isn’t far off announcing the same thing. Qatar’s CEO described anyone flying them right now as “foolish”. Qatar had already slated their departure for 2024 before Covid.


China Express ordered 100 Comac ARJ21’s and C919’s. The delivery schedule for 50 ARJ21’s is for two aircraft to be delivered this year, six in 2021, eight in 2022, nine in 2023, 10 in 2024, and 15 in 2025. The price for each aircraft is $38 million, but the airline says that it has negotiated a discount with COMAC.

The C919 is a 737 sized aircraft still in development and the exact numbers are yet to be agreed. The other 50 of the order may well be a mix of both.