Cathay Pacific has responded to a sharp decline in passenger numbers in August by axing a number of short and long-haul routes, cutting flights to other destinations, and ordering a hiring and spending freeze.The airline revealed it was suspending flights on Thursday, a day after it announced a 38 per cent drop in customers in August, and said it expected September to also be challenging.With a difficult winter ahead, and the anti-government protests in Hong Kong showing no signs of coming to…