Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) is planning to end "many" of its cargo-only flights operated with passenger aircraft as the surge in demand and yields on the cargo market, driven by the demand for personal protective equipment and the drop in capacity, is coming to an end, the South China Morning Post has reported.

"Cargo has been tapering off, and as a result, there will be many cancellations of cargo-only passenger aircraft flights, as the commercial decisions are made closer to the time of the flight," the carrier said in an internal memo.

In a follow-up statement, the airline clarified that it planned to continue operating its fleet of dedicated freighters at high utilisation rates. But, it would gradually wean off using passenger aircraft for cargo-only services.

Cathay Pacific is also re-evaluating its earlier plan to convert four passenger B777 aircraft into makeshift freighters. Under the current circumstances, the airline is likely to only convert two jets. Such a conversion is a more permanent step than the straightforward deployment of passenger aircraft on cargo-only flights but with their cabins intact.

The fall in demand for air cargo, caused by the gradual resumption of passenger flights with the associated bellyhold capacity, development of alternative means of transportation, and lower demand for medical supplies, has caused average air freight rates to halve during the last month.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Cathay Pacific's cargo division currently operates six B747-400(ERF)s and fourteen B747-8(F)s. The airline wholly owns Air Hong Kong (LD, Hong Kong Int'l), which operates nine A300-600Fs, two A330-200(F)s, and three A330-300(F)s on behalf of DHL Express.

Over the last few weeks, Cathay Pacific has been using many of its A330-300s, A350-900s, A350-1000s, B777-300s, and B777-300(ER)s for cargo-only services (with their cabins intact). Subsidiary Cathay Dragon (KA, Hong Kong Int'l) has also been deploying its A330-300s on cargo-only services.