Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific has seen its passenger traffic collapse to as little as 0.6 percent of its normal 100,000 daily passenger volume, the airline told staff on Friday, as it increased its flight reductions to 97 percent in April.

The airline told staff in a memo that it would make even more cuts to passenger flights by reducing its long-haul flights to two flights a week from three, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper.

Fleet 'virtually grounded'

The airline's near 200-strong passenger fleet had been "virtually grounded" too, the company said. Cathay cited an incident when it carried only 582 customers on one day this week, with a load factor of 18.3 percent.

The airline would normally carry 100,000 a day, representing a drop of 99.4 percent. CEO Augustus Tang and Chairman Patrick Healy said they would take a 30 percent pay cut from April through December, while Executive Directors would take a 25 percent cut.

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"A timeline for a recovery in our customer demand still remains impossible to predict," the SCMP quoted Tang as saying in the memo. Across the region, the airline pledged to maintain three weekly flights to 11 destinations, including Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore, and New Delhi.

Global airlines businesses hampered

Long-haul flights to London Heathrow, Vancouver, Sydney, and Los Angeles, would continue at a scaled-back rate of two flights a week. Across the four routes, Cathay would normally run about 100 flights a week, including five times a day to Heathrow.

Airlines globally have been hammered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, said the SCMP report. The impact has prompted the industry's body, the International Air Transport Association, to warn that with travel restrictions worldwide, it would cost airlines $252 billion.

In total, the airline industry would need a $200 billion bailout from governments, it said. Cathay Pacific, one of Asia's largest international airlines, operates a fleet of 236 planes. Its subsidiary HK Express has grounded all planes and stopped flying for five weeks until the end of April.