Just 4% of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights will operate over the next two months in reaction to a dramatic drop in demand.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan has led to the sister carriers slashing capacity by 96% in April and May.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon plan to operate a “bare skeleton” passenger flight schedule over the period.

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But a statement from the Hong Kong-based airline group said: “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.”

A Heathrow link will be maintained with three fights a week, together with 11 other destinations – Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney.

Cathay Dragon will operate three flights a week just to Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong), and Kuala Lumpur.

The carriers are waiving rebooking, rerouting and cancellation fees.

Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “As Hong Kong’s home airlines, it is important that we continue to provide important passenger and cargo connections to and from the Hong Kong hub.

“We will therefore endeavour to maintain a minimal number of flights to and from key destinations in our network to ensure these vital arteries remain open.

“While our freighter network remains intact, we are also ramping up our cargo capacity by mounting charter services and operating certain suspended passenger services purely for airfreight to meet cargo customer demand.

“We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented.

“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 is a resilient company. While we shall have much more to deal with given the challenges ahead, we remain confident in the long-term future of the company, the Hong Kong hub and our ability to thrive in Asia Pacific.”