Cathay says it will keep executive salary cuts and is asking employees to include a special leave program to save money.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd announced on Wednesday that the focus was on saving cash after posting a record annual loss of 21.65 billion Hong Kong dollars ($ 2.79 billion) due to a downturn in the Travel, restructuring costs and fleet reductions.

2020 has been described as “the most challenging 12 months in its more than 70-year history” as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted global air traffic in an unprecedented manner.

The loss in 2020 versus 2019 profit of 1.69 billion Hong Kong dollars ($ 218 million) was worse than an average forecast for a net loss of 19.9 billion Hong Kong dollars ($ 218 million), according to data provider Refinitiv , $ 56 billion) by 13 analysts.

“Market conditions remain challenging and dynamic,” said Patrick Healy, chairman of Cathay Pacific, in a statement. “All of our measures to preserve money will continue unabated. Executive wage cuts will remain in place throughout 2021. “

Cathay lacks a single market at a time when international borders are largely closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In December, Cathay’s number of passengers fell 98.7 percent year-on-year, although freight traffic fell by less than 32.3 percent.

[Bloomberg]Almost 60 percent of Hong Kong’s $ 47.9 billion ($ 6.17 billion) revenue in 2020 came from the cargo business, up from around 20 percent in 2019.

Cash incineration

The airline announced in January that it would reduce passenger capacity by 60 percent and cargo capacity by 25 percent as new rules required the crew to be quarantined in hotels for two weeks before returning to normal life in Hong Kong, which was announced on Jan. February entered into force.

As a result, Cathay has put most of its crew on volunteer rosters of three weeks of flight, two weeks in a hotel and two weeks off at home.

Cathay said the quarantine rules would increase cash use by about 300 million Hong Kong dollars ($ 38.6 million) to 400 million Hong Kong dollars ($ 51.5 million) per month, on top of the previous 1-1 , Hong Kong dollar 5 billion ($ 129 million to $ 193 m) levels.

The airline issued convertible bonds worth 6.74 billion Hong Kong dollars ($ 868 million) in January to help secure liquidity.

Cathay announced in October that it would cut 5,900 jobs to help weather the pandemic, including almost all jobs at its regional airline, Cathay Dragon, which it has closed.

[Bloomberg]2020 got off to a promising start for Cathay after a difficult second half of 2019 as anti-government protests rocked Hong Kong and disrupted traffic into the city. The airline’s position deteriorated drastically with the onset of COVID-19 in Wuhan in late January.

At this point, January 22nd, Cathay took the unusual step of issuing a press release with the first sentence in bold.

“Based on evolving information from health authorities, we will allow frontline crew and airport personnel to wear surgical face masks at their discretion when on duty,” it said.

As strange as it may now seem that masks are ubiquitous, politics was way ahead of its time – and an omen of the chaos that will hit global air traffic. A day later, the Cathay Dragon regional unit suspended flights to and from Wuhan for a month. On January 26, the suspension was postponed to late March, and then a snowball broke out as the pandemic hit, tearing travel plans and the aviation industry apart.