Cathay Pacific Airways, battered by the pandemic that led to a tremendous drop in 98% passenger numbers, is preparing for idled aircraft back to Hong Kong from storage since 2020 as restrictions ease.

Cathay said the idle aircraft in the Alice Springs desert are protected and fly-ready. “Now, we are bringing the fleet home to continue their next journey.” Hong Kong’s flag carrier released an introduction video of the resumption plan and expressed concern about restoring the aircraft to a serviceable condition in Alice Spring, Australia facilities.

Located in the middle of Australia, The subtropical hot desert climate is ideal for aircraft storage due to lower corrosion risks. The airport runway is long enough to accommodate any aircraft, including the largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. It makes Alice Spring the only aircraft storage facility in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cathay Pacific mentioned that the airline has slowly reduced the number of idle aircraft from almost half of the passenger fleet to 1/3 not being utilised. “We are making preparations for them gradually coming back ahead of the curve,” The CEO of Cathay Pacific, Augustus Tang said.

Cathay Pacific operated with a load factor of 60.5% in June with approximately 4 % of the pre-covid days. Passengers heading to Hong Kong also face hotel quarantine on arrival, which has become a limiting demand factor.

As of June, Cathay Pacific has 45 passenger destinations back in operation, up from 30 at the start of the year, and plans for up to 70 to be available by the end of the year as demand improves, Tang said. That compares to the 108 passenger destinations it operated before the pandemic.

Since 2020, nearly half of Cathay Pacific’s fleet has sat idle and sent to long-term storage facilities in Ciudad Real, Spain, and Alice Springs, Australia.

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