HONG KONG, Sept 11 (AFP): Cathay Pacific announced Wednesday its August passenger numbers were down 11.3 per cent on last year after the troubled airline faced a backlash from Beijing over Hong Kong's heated pro-democracy protests.
The airline, which is based in the financial hub, has had a torrid few weeks after Chinese state media and authorities blasted the company because some of its 27,000 employees had taken part in-or were sympathetic to-anti-government protesters.
"August was an incredibly challenging month, both for Cathay Pacific and for Hong Kong," Cathay's chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said in a statement.
Lam added that tourist arrivals significantly affected Cathay's performance as they were nearly half of what they usually are during the summer holidays.
The flagship carrier had a total of 2.9 million passengers last month, the biggest drop in more than a decade according to Bloomberg, with inbound Hong Kong traffic down 38 per cent and outbound down 12 per cent year-on-year.
The statement also said that inbound demand to Hong Kong from mainland China and North East Asia was "severely hit".
"We don't anticipate September being any less difficult," Lam said.
Hong Kong is now in the 15th week of political unrest, which was sparked by a now shelved bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland.